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July 2016:  The introduction of legislations to HIV and hepatitis medications on the Pharmaceutical Bureau Scheme's Highly Specialised Drug (HSD) programs in 2015 and 2016 have changed the way that pharmacies have been able to prescribe and dispense these drugs. As a result, community pharmacies are placed in an increasingly central and pivotal role in managing the treatment and ongoing care of clients in the Australian community.

Pharmacists – both in hospital and community settings – are now urged to become part of an exciting delegation of three forthcoming conferences in 2016 where leadership, science and community meet for advancing prevention, treatment and management of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexual health.

The Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference (29 Sept – 1 Oct 2016, Gold Coast), the Australasian Sexual Health Conference (14-16 Nov 2016, Adelaide), and Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference (16-18 Nov 2016, Adelaide) – present an excellent educational opportunity for all pharmacists with an interest in this exciting area of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexual health to hear, learn and be inspired from a multidisciplinary delegation who will be sharing research, experiences and best practices in the areas of their expertise.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine, organisers of the conferences, have worked with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the Australian College of Pharmacy – each being key contributors to increasing pharmacists understanding in the area of HIV and hepatitis health care management.



The change of Community Pharmacy dispensing of HIV and HBV S100 in 2015


From 1 July 2015, changes were made to the way some PBS medicines under the Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) Program can be prescribed and dispensed. All approved pharmacies  are now able to dispense PBS prescriptions for HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and hepatitis B medicines – irrespective of where these prescriptions originated. The ability of community pharmacies to start dispensing these medicines marked a major change that the HIV sector and people living with HIV had been campaigning for many years. The ability to access long-term treatment for chronic conditions from a patient's local pharmacy has been not only instrumental in normalising HIV, but also in reducing reliance on public hospitals. Increasingly people with HIV and Hepatitis B are able to access care in the community.

While these changes are welcome, there were some reservations among people who had experienced stigma or discrimination in the past that this might happen in an open pharmacy setting. The transition to community pharmacy dispensing has been widely adopted and the success of the initiative widely recognised. 

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Community Pharmacy dispensing of new HCV direct-acting antiviral medications in 2016 


In March 2016, Australia entered a new era in HCV treatment with the PBS listing of new highly effective, well-tolerated, short duration (mostly only 12 weeks) oral treatments available to all those living with chronic HCV aged over 18 years. Community pharmacies are now able to dispense new direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs for HCV listed under S85, while GPs are also able to prescribe them. These drugs are costly, which has presented some complications in their stockage for community pharmacists. Many pharmacists have put in place special arrangements to provide these medicines  for people living with hepatitis C, which has created a streamlined access to treatment in their community.

Chronic HCV remains one of Australia's most commonly notified infectious diseases and it is estimated that 25% of HCV infections remain undiagnosed. Primary care practitioners – and community pharmacists dispensing treatment – play a key role in detecting people who are unaware of their HCV infection and in re-engaging those diagnosed some years ago.

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Implications to the Pharmacist-Patient relationship


These changes to the PBS in  the way that HIV, HBV and HCV medications could be dispensed have meant an increase in the community pharmacist's role in care and management of people living with HIV and viral hepatitis. Many patients will now have fewer and shorter visits with their doctor before starting treatment for these conditions.

The pharmacist-patient relationship in this context has led to community pharmacists with a case-load of HIV and hepatitis B and C patients providing patients with advice including discussing adherence and reviewing a patient's possible drug interactions.

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Invitation to 2016 Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference

Pharmacists are now invited to take part in the biennial Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference on 29 September – 1 October 2016 in the Gold Coast, Queensland. This conference presents an exciting learning and networking opportunity – a meeting where leadership, science and community meet for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat, prevent and ultimately eradication of viral hepatitis.

A strong three-day conference programme brings together a multidisciplinary delegation to discuss current and global epidemic trends, to share best practices and research, and to develop new strategies and collaborations in public health.


Hear from highlighted speakers and symposia sessions exploring themes in the areas of epidemiology, public health and prevention:

  • The epidemiology and natural history of hepatitis B & C
  • Informing prevention strategies in hepatitis C priority populations
  • Future research priorities for understanding strategies to enhance the hepatitis B and C care cascade in Australia
  • A closing plenary panel discussion explores the question on whether the Australian HCV elimination targets are realistic
  • Planetary speaker, Alexander Ploss, PhD, shares his work focussing on Deciphering Host Range Restrictions of Human Hepatitis Viruses – deciphering the molecular basis for the narrow host range of the five known human hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, delta and E. His work translates this knowledge into the construction of animal models suitable for studying human hepatitis virus infections at the organismal levels as well as for preclinical testing of novel intervention approaches.


Hear from highlighted speakers and symposia sessions providing insights on clinical studies including:

  • The latest developments in treatments and models of care
  • Understandings of DAA treatment access and linkage to care
  • The latest developments in HCV screening and diagnosis
  • How new treatments are being experienced by the community, by service providers and how the government is working to achieve success for all
  • Real life case histories with difficult scenarios in hepatitis C and B management presented to a panel of experts including Alex Thompson, Director of Gastroenterology at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital, speaking of his more recent work focussing on clinical strategies to promote the elimination of the transmission of viral hepatitis, including primary care-based models of treatment for people who inject drugs and prisoners in his paper Eliminate hepatitis B: A multi-pronged approach is required


Hear from highlighted speakers and symposia sessions on community and social research related to different models of care for different populations:

  • Planetary speaker, Zoe Dodd, presents The Future of Hep C Care for People Who Use Drugs: Lessons from a community-based, harm reduction, client-drive program in Toronto, Canada – a reflection on 10 years of setting up and providing Hep C person-centred services in treatment and support to marginalized drug users.
  • Kate Seear, Senior Lecturer in Law at Monash University considers the role that the law and legal practices play in shaping hepatitis C transmission and the nature and scale of hepatitis C epidemics in Hepatitis transmission and prevention: Exploring the role that the law plays in shaping blood borne virus epidemics
  • Communities responding to hepatitis B: barriers, enablers and experiences


Hear from speakers in the area of epidemiology, public health and prevention:

  • See mid-term progress report against the 2014-2017 National Hepatitis B and C Strategies
  • With the World Health Organization recently adopting the first ever global viral hepatitis strategy, learn what this means for Australasia and the leadership role Australasia can play
  • Alex Ploss, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, will share his research on Deciphering Host Range Restrictions of Human Hepatitis Viruses


In the field of clinical science:

  • Learn about advances in the immunological response to hepatitis virus and their transmission
  • Understand complementary role of vaccination and treatment in achieving elimination
  • Find out latest developments in treatments, access and linkage to care
  • Learn how the new treatments are being experienced by the community, by service providers and how the government is working to achieve success for all.
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, and Infectious Diseases Physician, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, will present The new HCV treatment era in Australia: early lessons – presenting data of HCV DAA treatment uptake in Australia, including regimen and prescriber patterns. He'll discuss potential gaps in early coverage, strategies for maintaining the momentum, and potential impact on population-level HCV disease burden.


The Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference attracts a large range of delegates including Viral Hepatitis Specialists, Gastroenterologists, Physicians, General Practitioners, Addiction Medicine specialists, Drug and Alcohol Workers, Nurses, Social Workers, Community Workers, Educators, Pharmaceutical Company Representatives, Basic Scientists, Infectious Disease Specialists, Researchers, National/State & Territory Government Agency Personnel, Non-Government Organisations Personnel, Regional/Area Health Authority Personnel, People Living with Viral Hepatitis.

Never before has there been a more important conference to attend in Viral Hepatitis. Don't miss out on the education and networking opportunity to attend at what is a unique moment in history to reduce the burden of Hepatitis C in Australia.


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Invitation to 2016 Australasian Sexual Health Conference

Pharmacists are invited to take part in the Australasian Sexual Health Conference convened by the Australasian Sexual Health Alliance (ASHA) and held from 14-16 November 2016 in Adelaide. ASHA is a group of partner organisations established to improve national and local responses to sexual health issues, via a multidisciplinary support network for the sexual health workforce. It aims to strengthen bonds between specialists, GPs, nurses, researchers and other key contributors to the sexual health sector, through collaboration in sexual health education, policy-making and research. The conference encourages all disciplines involved in sexual health medicine and sexual health promotion to come together and share experiences, new research and discuss national and local responses to sexual health in Australasia.

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Invitation to 2016 Australasian HIV and AIDS Conference


Pharmacists are invited to join the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference (26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine) – the premier HIV Conference in Australia and the Asia and Pacific region.

The annual conference is run by ASHM as a platform for the dissemination and presentation of new and innovative research findings across the Australasian HIV sector.

Delegates to the conference come from a range of professional backgrounds including basic science, clinical medicine, community programs, education, epidemiology, indigenous health, international and regional issues, nursing and allied health, policy, primary care, public health and prevention, and social research.

Highlights for this year’s event include:

  • Fostering a comprehensive response to HIV in low prevalence settings and populations including heterosexually-acquired HIV, migrant populations and in regional and remote settings
  • Reviewing the early implementation of PrEP and identifying priority issues for clinicians, researchers and affected communities 
  • Ensuring professional and skills development are a priority in the development of sessions and other learning opportunities held within the conference  
  • Enabling greater access and discussion around poster presentations through scheduling of dedicated concurrent sessions 


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