Media Release

Perth, Western Australia
International Day of Older Persons, 1 October 2017

Pictured: Karen Seager (ASHM Senior Project Office), Lisa Bastian (WA Dept of Health Manager Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program), David Kernohan (WA AIDS Council CEO), Lisa Tomney (WA AIDS Council), Ita Buttrose, Uncle Ben Taylor (Aboriginal Elder), Claire Italiano (ASHM Board Member), Wendy and Stephen Walker (Positive Bureau Speakers)


Ita Buttrose today marked International Day of Older Persons by launching a new nationally-accredited training program for frontline aged care staff who provide support to people with HIV in aged-care settings. The first nationally-accredited training of its kind focuses on the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to provide support to people with HIV in a variety of aged-care settings. These include residential care, family homes and community-day settings.

Ms Buttrose who was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her services to the community especially in the field of public health education when she spearheaded Australia's HIV/AIDS Education Program as Chair of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS, said she the program was an exciting  and much needed initiative.

“It’s appropriate that it is being launched on the International Day of Old Persons with its theme ‘Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society’,  which identifies the pathways that support full and effective participation in older age, in accordance with the  basic rights, needs and preferences of our older citizens.

“The program aims to assure older men and women with HIV that their needs will be met when they are seeking aged-care services. It will also help remove barriers that in the past, might have excluded or discriminated again them and their aged care needs.”

Funded by the Western Australian Department of Health, this training was developed by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) – a peak membership organisation representing a multidisciplinary HIV workforce. It was developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including: organisations who represent people with HIV; organisations representing older people; organisations representing aged-care providers, front-line aged care staff, and general practice; other education providers; and LGBTI community organisations.

WA Department of Health's Manager Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Lisa Bastian said that the innovative program was funded as it would benefit Western Australians, as well as older people living with HIV across the nation. "[This training] aligns with the WA Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Strategies 2015-2018, which works towards ambitious targets to prevent, test, treat and minimise the personal and social impact of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections.”

Aaron Cogle, Executive Director of The National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) states, “NAPWHA is proud to have partnered with ASHM in the development of this very important training”. Cogle explains that as people with HIV age and rely on support services it is important that the services that they may rely on are up-to-date in their knowledge and understanding about HIV. NAPWHA commends this resource to the aged-care sector and looks forward to building on this work to further improve the lives of people with HIV as they age.  

With newer, better-tolerated antiretroviral therapy (ART) – HIV has been transformed from a once fatal illness to a chronic condition that people can now easily manage. People with HIV are living longer, reaching old age and will increasingly access aged-care services.

With accredited training such as this, people with HIV can have confidence and assurance that any frontline aged-care worker who has completed this training, not only has an understanding of the many issues all people face as they confront aging and their own mortality – including issues of loneliness, increasing dependence on others, isolation, and loss of autonomy. This understanding will further encompass issues that may affect people with HIV; and the effects of HIV on the aging process.

Dr Claire Italiano, ASHM Board Member and Infectious Diseases Physician at Royal Perth Hospital outlines some of the fundamental knowledge required for managing a person with HIV. “A comprehensive range of educational topics featured in this training ranging from: HIV transmission, confidentiality, disclosure, implementation of standard precautions, basic understanding of HIV medication and the importance of adherence to the treatment regimen. Also featured strongly is the debunking of myths surrounding HIV which often forms the basis of stigma and discrimination.”

Therese De Luce, Manager of Strategic Learning and Growth and the enterprise RTO at Brightwater Care Group – a large aged-care and disability services provider in Western Australia and part of ASHM’s pilot program – said that for aged-care workers (and future aged-care workers), this will be the first time they will be able to complete a unit of competency specifically targeted to providing support to people with HIV as part of their full formal qualification, such as a Certificate III in Individual Support and the Certificate IV in Ageing Support. It can also serve as professional development where the ‘Statement of Attainment’ that the learner receives on completion could count towards their next level of education.

ASHM will now work towards getting Australian Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) on-board nationally, so that they can deliver this training within their curriculum.


For all media enquires

To organise a statement or an interview with a spokesperson, contact Saysana Sirimanotham
ASHM Communications on or (02) 8204 0763


Notes for editors

According to the National BBV and STI Surveillance and Monitoring Report 20151, during 2014, there were an estimated 27,150 (24,630-30,310) people with HIV in Australia. The annual number of new HIV diagnoses has gradually increased by 13% over the past 10 years.

It is important to note that while transmission of HIV in Australia continues to occur primarily through sexual contact between men, 19% of newly diagnosed cases were attributed to heterosexual sex, and 3% to injecting drug use. HIV is not, and never was, an exclusively ‘gay’ disease. The proportion of women diagnosed with HIV is estimated to increase to 10.5% of the diagnosed HIV population by 20202

With the introduction of newer, better tolerated antiretroviral treatments the population of people with HIV has aged substantially. In 1985 the proportion of the population over 55 was 2.7%. By 2000 it was 11.2%. By 2010 it was 25.7% and by 2020 it is expected to be 44.3%.2 This prediction will have significant implications for those working in aged-care.



  1. The Kirby Institute. National Blood-borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Surveillance and Monitoring Report, 2015. The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, published September 2016
  2. Jansson, J., Wilson, D., Watson, J. (2011) Mapping HIV outcomes: geographical and clinical forecasts of numbers of people living with HIV in Australia. National Association of People living with HIV/AIDS,  National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney