Ita launches NAPWA awareness campaign on HIV treatment
A new national multi-media campaign launched today in Sydney by the National Association of People living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) urges people living with HIV to get up to date about the latest advances in HIV treatment, with new more effective and better tolerated treatments also capable of significantly reducing the risk of transmission to others.
Launching the campaign at ACON’s headquarters, media personality and long-time HIV health advocate Ita Buttrose also fired a parting shot at the Federal Government, urging Health Minister Tanya Plibersek to help steer the government clear of complacency in regards to Australia’s HIV response.
“I’m talking about such barriers as no access to rapid HIV testing in Australia, our state of restrictions to prescribe the HIV treatments earlier in the course of HIV infection, dispensing arrangements where people can only have their scripts filled at hospital pharmacies in business hours,” Buttrose said.
“I mean can you believe it?”
The campaign aims to encourage people with HIV to talk to their doctor about important new developments in HIV treatment and prevention with advertisements to run across national print media and billboard posters at key sites in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
It will be the first campaign of its kind to use mainstream media and public advertising sites to promote HIV treatment awareness, with NAPWA president Robert Mitchell suggesting that recent scientific advances show that treatment can also help with the prevention of HIV.
“Unfortunately, many people with HIV are still unaware of recent treatment improvements, new information about living with HIV long term, and the added benefit that being on treatment can have in reducing the risk of HIV transmission”, Mitchell said.
President of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, Dr Edwina Wright, commended NAPWA’s campaign as well as its target message.
“There’s growing evidence that starting treatment as soon as someone is positive or certainly very early in their illness when their immune system is good has benefits,” she said at the launch.
“The point here is that we need to be talking to our patients about this evidence and we invite you to come and discuss this evidence. It’s nuanced, it can be tricky.”
New US HIV treatment guidelines released last month, and supported by NAPWA, now recommend treatment for all people with HIV, regardless of whether they are newly infected or have more advanced HIV infection.
Simon O’Connor, the executive officer of Queensland Positive People, told the audience he hoped it would be the current generation which eventually conquered HIV.
“A lot of people are operating under an old view of HIV in its treatment,” he said.
“Today the picture is actually quite different. Many people with HIV need only take one pill a day. Treatments are effective long term and side effects and toxicities are minimal for many people.”
Photo: Ita Buttrose in conversation with Dr Edwina Wright (Serkan Ozturk)