HIV project focuses on gay and bisexual men born abroad in Australia

Gilead Sciences Australia New Zealand, on May 25, 2021, announced Australia’s recipients of the Gilead Getting to Zero Grant 2021, a global initiative supporting projects to achieve zero new HIV infections.

Two projects – one focused on gay and bisexual men born abroad and the second on Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders – are the recipients of the grant in Australia.

Access PrEP

The first Australian grantee to receive Gilead Getting to Zero grant funding is Monash University for a project to improve access to HIV exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for newly arrived men abroad who have sex with men.

Gay, bisexual and other newly arrived men abroad who have sex with men (GBM) need to focus more on HIV prevention and strategies to encourage HIV testing and earlier diagnosis of HIV. Late HIV diagnoses among foreign-born GBMs have increased significantly (32%) over the past five years, in contrast to a 47% drop among gay men born in Australia.

Associate Professor Dr Jason Ong, a sexual health physician at the Melbourne Sexual Health Center, part of Monash University’s Central Clinical School and project leader, said funding for the Getting to Zero grant will help enable foreign born GBMs to access pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). .

“The success of HIV prevention depends to a large extent on the cooperation and ideas of a wide range of stakeholders. While foreign-born MSM constitute a specific population, there are many different countries, cultures, behaviors, and levels of education and awareness for HIV prevention and treatment within this community ” Dr Ong told Star Observer.

“Our project aims to use lessons from behavioral economics to quickly and effectively engage multiple stakeholders to solve complex challenges and create intervention strategies to empower foreign-born gay and bisexual (GBM) men in focusing on GBMs born in Asia to access PrEP, ”Dr Dit Ong.

Less access to HIV prevention methods

“There are many factors that could explain why newly arrived Asian gay men may have a higher risk of contracting HIV. For example, at the individual level, there are fears of being tested positive (linked to the associated stigma and discrimination, and fear that their visa status will be affected), low health literacy and not understanding how navigate the Australian healthcare system effectively. Structurally, those who are not eligible for Medicare have less access to effective HIV prevention methods like PrEP and PEP, unlike the Australian-born GBM. ” he added.

According to the latest data from Australian Annual Surveillance Report (published by the University of New South Wales), there is a marked difference in HIV reporting among gay, bisexual and other Australian-born men who have sex with men (GBM ) (4 per 100,000) compared to men born to GBM in Southeast Asia (14 per 100,000). Strikingly, among HIV diagnoses among foreign-born GBMs, the proportion originating in Asia increased from 28% (2008) to 52% (2017).

Dr Ong also said: “ I am delighted to receive this grant which will allow us to co-create ‘nudges’ with the community to improve awareness and access to effective HIV prevention methods like PrEP so that individuals can protect themselves against it. HIV. Lessons learned from successes in behavioral economics can be fed into the HIV sector to accelerate our progress towards eliminating HIV transmission for all Australians, regardless of visa status.

HIV and STI rates are disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The second recipient of the Australian grant is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Service Organizations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop a new HIV health promotion program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity. building materials for health workers working with indigenous peoples.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders remain disproportionately high compared to non-natives, with the rate of HIV diagnoses among Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders now more than twice the diagnosis rate among Australian-born non-Aboriginals.

“Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs designed especially for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome, ”said Colin Ross, President of the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

The AFAO and ANA program will provide Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander communities and health workers with resources, knowledge, strategies and skills to help address these disproportionate rates of HIV and STIs among this population.

Leave no one behind

“Although Australia’s HIV treatment and prevention efforts are world-leading, we have not made enough progress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The most powerful responses to HIV are grounded in the values ​​and practices of the communities they serve. These resources will strengthen the HIV response for Australia’s First Peoples, ”said Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO

“We are committed to working in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector and AFAO to carry out this groundbreaking work. This funding from Gilead will help us strengthen our work and determination to ‘get to zero’ in our community for HIV and STIs, ”Ross concluded.

“Australia is one of the countries at the forefront of achieving the UNAIDS 2030 goals, but there are still multiple populations, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and migrant populations. , where continued focus and investment are essential if we are to achieve zero new transmissions in Australia, ”said Jaime McCoy, Managing Director of Gilead Sciences Australia New Zealand

AIDS can only be eliminated as a threat to public health if all populations affected by the epidemic are ended. We must not leave anyone behind! mentionned Dr Ong.

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