The WA AIDS Council is thrilled that the Government has confirmed funding for a WA PrEP demonstration project for 2,000 Western Australians. We’ve pushed this for what seems like forever, and the result is better than we dared to dream. We’ll release more details very soon on our websites and social media. This demonstration project will help eliminate new HIV transmission as we aim for our 2020 goals. CEO Andrew Burry has today made the following statement:
Statement on the Establishment of the WA PrEP Demonstration Project
We are thrilled that funding for the PrEP Demonstration Project has been secured and announced. We have been working hard for this for a long time, although I concede that at times our work may not have been visible. In the end, the outcome was greater than we dared to dream, and with 2,000 places available and the project funded for at least two years, it is the country’s largest on a per capita basis.
Whilst the funding is secured, there is still some work remaining before enrolments can commence. This is a partnership between the WA AIDS Council, the Department of Health and the Kirby Institute. Whilst the partnership has had plenty of dialog leading up to the announcement, final agreements between the parties still need to be concluded. This will not take long.
A ‘Demonstration Project’ is a research study. As such, the program must be run within strict protocols, and Ethics Approval must be obtained for each of the participating clinical sites. Training for the WA Chief Investigator and Research Supervisor(s) is also necessary. There are several sites included to ensure the project is well resourced, including clinical services and support, peer support and so on. Obtaining Ethics Approval is relatively complex and detailed and does take some time. Consequently, we have stated our goal as commencement being early in the second half of 2017. To us, this means July 1st, however if we can be fully ready earlier we will commence earlier.
The Demonstration Project is a criteria-based access program. This means that eligibility for participation will be determined based on HIV risk criteria. The aim is to rapidly enrol eligible people and follow them for up to two years while they take PrEP.
To facilitate the smooth entry of eligible people into the project, we will shortly establish a pre-registration program. Pre-registration will involve providing some details of your personal and sexual histories. All information collected will be secure and confidential.
We will also ensure details of implementation progress will be on both the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. People interested will also be able to subscribe to a special newsletter and questions can be directed to a specific email address (details below).
If you currently feel you need PrEP right now, please consider commencing immediately via the existing PrEP access programs using the personal importation process. Details on how to do this are also on the WA AIDS Council and M Clinic websites. Current or previous PrEP use does not affect eligibility into the project.
There are many people who worked together in making this outcome possible. The team at the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program of the Department of Health shouldered a huge workload in developing costings of various proposals. The Kirby Institute also provided incredible support in helping us to develop a model that best suits Western Australia and takes advantage of some of our special features.
We aren’t the first ‘cab off the rank’, and similar large demonstration projects are underway in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Our colleagues at ACON, the Victorian AIDS Council, the Queensland AIDS Council, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, and the The National Association of People with HIV Australia have tirelessly supported our efforts and occasional disappointments as we worked this through.
I want to acknowledge also the great people in NSW Health who offered extraordinary advice, warned us of potential pitfalls and shared their own experiences so that we can start as efficiently as the NSW program has become. In particular, we acknowledge former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who shone a light of hope when wide scale PrEP access seemed beyond our reach.
Please keep in touch with our progress in the WA PrEP Demonstration Program by accessing our websites, subscribing to our newsletter and through pre-registration when it becomes available.
Chief Executive Officer
For Information on the WA PrEP Demonstration Project:
Only in America, right?
Sadly, for many Australians, their sexual education wasn't (or isn't) much better than this hilarious scene from Mean Girls. We asked staff from the Council to give us their stories. There are funny, frustrating, even sad, considering some of them are from only a few years ago! Here they are:
1. Nuns Offer Salvation
In five years at high school, our sexual education consisted of one lesson, during Religious Education, in year 10. Three - yes three - nuns were brought in (they didn’t work at the school and we’d never met them before) to demonstrate the various contraceptive alternatives, whilst recording their failure rates on the board. Questions were discouraged. At the end of the lesson we were told in no uncertain terms that there is no point using contraception as they can all fail, and using them would result in eternal damnation anyway. Abstinence is the only way! It was almost entirely focused on pregnancy, with only some explanation of STIs – and absolutely no mention of any other sex than heterosexual penis-in-vagina.
2. Hot Showers for Contraception?
Ahh year 10 - probably one of the best-yet-worst years, being out of middle school but the youngest of upper school - scary! The year 11’s apparently knew everything and I heard lots of myths about sex, like how having a hot shower after sex would prevent pregnancy or STI’s meant getting sores and lumps like the gross pictures.
With so many rumors, I was excited to start health class, but unfortunately there wasn’t a whole heap of myth busting going on. In one class we were assigned an STI and to do a poste about it. We had 1 hour only and during that time all we did was Google STI pictures and copy the information from that most credible of sources, Wikipedia.
3. Oui Oui? Yes Please!
I was in an all girls’ school during my high school years and so when it came time for “the talk” at school we were dedicated one night in the fourth year of schooling. It was an evening with refreshments for the mothers (no fathers allowed). We sat down and watched a quick film about the “horrors” of pre marital sex and a cartoon display of the diseases that you could catch and that you could get pregnant.
There were no discussions about how it happened and what caused it. So my main education came from the older girls in the school. And well let’s just say that scared me more than anything!
I thought when I became old enough to begin menstruation that I was dying. I had no idea what to do or where to put anything. My mother threw me some old towels and a couple of safety pins and said “put this on”. Put it on where? And why was I bleeding in the first place? So assured that I was about to live the last day of my life, I went into my brother and cried and told him I was dying. Once I explained how I knew he sat with me and told me about the “birds and bees”. When I think of it now, I am horrified that I had my brother telling me this stuff, but luckily he and I were close, and he got his girlfriend to finish off the education. Going through the younger part of my teens I was scared and did not know if everything was ok. I relied on “stories” from other girls who always exaggerated. French kiss? When was I going to meet a French man?????
4. Puberty is Only for Boys, Apparently...
Despite going to an all-girls catholic school, my sex education at school provided a surprising amount of information about male sexuality with very little attention given to female sexuality at all. I remember watching a video about male puberty, with no such accompanying video for females. The video talked about how boys may experiences wet dreams and how it is normal for boys to start to masturbate. My friends and I laughed as we reflected back years later that we actually didn’t even know that women could masturbate until far (far!) too late in life.
5. You Can't Ask That!
When I was in year 6 and at a religiously affiliated school, we were given our first ever sex education. Just like most other groups in this situation, everyone seemed to be saying how much they were dreading it and how it was gross, when meanwhile deep down you could tell everyone was so excited to talk about this elusive thing called sexual education.
The class ended up being entirely about puberty; you will grow hair here, your voice will drop etc. There was a moment when they asked if anyone had any questions, and I remember putting my hand up, and asking “why are people gay?” The level of laughter that exploded out of the room was ridiculous. I can honestly say that I had no idea what was so funny. Worse than the laughter though was my teacher’s response:
“That is not an appropriate question. You have to ask me that after class……”
The class then went back to the general information and I waited until after class. I approached my teacher asking first why he reacted that way to which he responded: “being a Christian school parents wouldn’t want their children knowing that happens”. Which then led me to my original question “why are people gay?” His answer is something I have not forgotten:
“People become gay because they have committed many sexual sins and the only way to satisfy their cravings for lust is to sleep with someone of the same gender.”
It’s hard to say, but at the time I don’t think it was some subconscious inner gay me trying to find answers, I think I asked because I was genuinely curious but once realisation of my own sexuality came to be, I couldn’t help but think that I had somehow by the age of 12 or 13 lowered myself to the lowest forms of depravity and it took me until 18 to begin the process of accepting myself and up until 21 or 22 to achieve it.
As a side note apparently the kids all laughed in the class when I asked my question because it made me look gay, which I still am not entirely sure how.
6. Wouldn't That Be Weird...
I was in year 9 having my annual sex ed which was taught in Physical Education class. My school would separate boys and girls and spend 1 of the 2 PE classes a week on sex ed. In the class we were talking about spontaneous erections and the inappropriate nature of them and the uncontrollability of them. My teacher was saying that it didn’t mean arousal necessarily and that you could get them during the most mundane tasks, like while sitting in math class. He also said “since we are talking about them now, if you had one that would be weird.” I will be completely honest and say I did find myself erect and a large part of that could have been due to the constant talk of erections! It was just another time that I was told something about my sexual self was different and weird.
7. Uninformed Teacher
During my sexual education we got the typical STI talk paired with pictures, ‘this is a dick with chlamydia’, ‘this a vagina with gonorrhoea’... Little was my teacher aware that in 90% of situations those two diseases are asymptomatic.
8. Marriage = BDSM??
At my co-ed Uniting Church school, Year 9 was the designated year of ‘Sex Ed Camp’. A name that promised so much unfortunately led to great disappointment. The only memory I have is where we were all crowded into the camp mess hall, the lights were dimmed and we were subjected to a deliberately ‘horrifying’ Powerpoint slideshow of various STIs and their symptoms. The following day we were partnered up with someone of the opposite sex and then our arms were literally tied together and we had to walk around for hours together, in an attempt to learn about what marriage was like…!?
Luckily, it isn't all bad...
9. What is a Blue Viener?!
Fortunately, my sexual education wasn’t terrible. In primary school (year 7), at the first lesson in series of sexual health lessons, we were asked to name all the funny names we had for genitals. There were some atrocious ones (i.e. “blue veiner”) on the board but it was a good icebreaker. We then had sexual anatomy pictures and figures around the classroom for about a month. They even talked about anal sex!
10. GP Saves the Day
Not education, but I’ll never forget my first STI test.
My fist test 2004; I was 18 years old. Recently started having sex with men and still quite unsure about my sexual orientation. My local GP was a nice older lady who I had been seeing since I was 2 years old. The courage needed to tell her what I had been doing behind closed doors was like having giant road-runner like weights on my feet as I slowly walked (in shame) to the Dr’s room. Being an innocent country boy from the wheat belt it was if I was coming out to my parents (which didn’t happen for another year). I burst into tears and said ‘I think I’m gay’ which at the time I thought it was the worst thing in the world.
My GP was surprised and assumed that I had been with a girl and was expecting a baby (it turned out she was confusing me with my older brother); this certainly didn’t help. As I sat there and thought ‘oh god, now she knows what I have been doing’ I felt too uncomfortable to stay there and just got up and left. The following day the GP called me at home, mum answered the phone and gave the call straight to me. She wanted to see me, I went down to the clinic immediately and as I walked into her office there was a 30 something year old man in her room, as it turned out, it was her gay son. This ultimately gave me the confidence to discuss my issues with my GP with her son present (not as awkward as it sounds) the test was done, the results were fine and I get tested with the same GP even now every 6 – 12 months. Awesome!
Study after study has proven the effectiveness of sex positive, comprehensive sexual education. Recipients of complete sex ed are more likely to delay their first instance of sexual activity and are more likely to participate in safe sex practices. The WA AIDS Council offers a range of education and training programs. Click here for more information.
The WA AIDS Council is looking for People Living with HIV to share their story on camera as part of its training and education programs. We are seeking to represent the diversity of lived experiences and journeys of PLHIV in WA.These will include narratives from PLHIV from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; Aboriginal or from a Torres Strait Island background; women, young people, heterosexual and gay men.
Whether you are newly diagnosed or been living with HIV long term, we want to hear from you! Contact Mark, email@example.com, if you are interested. All participants will be remunerated.
World AIDS Day 2016 was another significant time for the WA AIDS Council. The Council built on the events of 2015, and this year also involved the whole community with a billboard advertising campaign. The theme "Is this what we are telling our kids about HIV?" asked the community to start a conversation, to talk to young people about sex and STI's, and not forget the history of HIV in Australia. The billboards were positioned at three busy locations, on two Perth Cat buses, and were supported by a range of other activities to coincide with World AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day.
Each day throughout World AIDS Awareness Week, Council staff participated in radio interviews with local station RTRFM. Topics discussed range from HIV & Ageing, AIDS Awareness and How to Reach Zero Transmissions and Leavers, AIDS and KISS.
You can listen to all of the conversations here: http://rtrfm.com.au/story/world-aids-day/
To coincide with World AIDS Awareness Week and Leavers, two new resources, a fact sheet "How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex" and a brochure "Sending Sexy Selfies" were developed for parents and young people to navigate the world of sexual relationships.
People living with HIV were in Perth were treated to two events as part of World AIDS Awareness Week, the annual MAC Good Spirits event and the PLHIV Community and Family BBQ. Both events were well attended and a good time was had by all. A huge thank you to Daniel and the team at MAC, and the WAAIDS staff who prepared the yummy food for the barbecue.
The following people and organisations very generously collected money on behalf on the AIDS Council:
Muzz Buzz Innaloo
Elizabeth Sadleir, Solicitor
Alan Man, Ernst and Young
Norton Rose Fulbright
Together they raised over $2,000 to support the work of the Council and people living with HIV in WA. Thank you!!
Zero Art Exhibition
For the first time, WAAIDS hosted Zero, an art exhibition inspire by the world wide goal of Zero transmissions, Zero stigma and Zero deaths from AIDS related illnesses. The opening night was held on World AIDS Day, and was attended by a very large crowd at the PSA Fremantle.
Guests enjoyed delicious food, wandered among the amazing pieces, and heard from Fremantle Mayor Dr Brett Pettitt, Deputy Chairperson Ren Adams, as well as WA NAPWHA representative Paul Baines. The event raised well over $6,000 for the Council.
Film Screening at the Piazza
World AIDS Awareness Week culminated in the Council's public screening of the film Pride, at the Northbridge Piazza. The chilly air didnt deter dozens from enjoying this heartwarming story of a group of gay and lesbian activists who decided to raise money to support the families of the striking miners during Thatcher's England.
Before the film, WAAIDS Board Chairperson Asunka Gunasekera called for a WA PrEP trial, while WA NAPWHA representative Ryan Oliver gave a passionate speech on behalf on people living with HIV in WA, using the theme HIV is still here, and it's on the move.
The Keep It Safe Summer (KISS) team completed another successful Leavers campaign, providing support and safety information to school leavers at Dunsborough and Rottnest Island celebrations. Over four days, the team of staff and volunteers delivered:
- 12,500 safe sex packs distributed (most ever!)
- 475 hours of volunteer outreach
- 20 Volunteers
- 1,200 quizzes completed on sexual health, consent, alcohol and drug use (most ever!)
- 7000 Leavers in Dunsborough
- 200 Leavers participated in Pitstop
- 5000 at Meelup Beach Day
- 1000 Leavers on Rottnest Island
- 7000 snap chat filter impression (KISS snap chat filtered implement in the zone and Dunsborough foreshore first time)
- Over 2500 facebook views during Leavers week and 3000 engaged with the posts
- 2 television interviews
Congratulations to Carley and the team for another succesful year.
Suzanne is a legal practitioner who practices as a government lawyer. Suzanne provides advice on contract and commercial issues, compliance, audit and risk, human resources, investigations, occupational health and safety and environmental management. She has previously managed the Legal and Legislative Services Directorate at the Western Australian Department of Health. Suzanne is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Suzanne is committed to making a difference in the not-for-profit sector. She is also Secretary and Board Director for HeartKids WA which provides support for families affected by childhood heart disease.
She joined the in-house and government lawyers advocacy organisation, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (now Association of Corporate Counsel Australia) as a Committee member in 2003 and has held positions as Treasurer, Vice President and President of the WA Committee and National President and Chair of the Board.
Every Day is World AIDS Day
Today some of our clients were spoilt by these beautiful people who work for MAC Makeup in Perth. They volunteered their time so they could spend the morning with Emma, Alli and our clients and they made us all feel so very special and beautiful, while they did our makeup and lavished attention on us.
MAC have been amazing contributors to The WA AIDS Council for many many years. Not only do they donate substantial amounts of money to STYLEAID, they provide all of the make up for photo shoots for STYLEAID and supply the makeup teams and make up back stage for the models on the night.
We would like to extend out thanks and our gratitude to Daniel and his volunteers for making it a wonderful morning for our clients.
ViiV Healthcare have teamed up with NAPWHA (National Association of People With HIV Australia) to produce MyLife+, a mobile application that empowers people with HIV to take control of their health and wellbeing, and manage their overall quality of life.
The app uses trackers and tools for blood results, medication, and quality of life tracking. The app includes a journal and is intended to facilitate better conversations with health professionals.