QuAC Applauds PrEP Study Expansion

The Queensland AIDS Council welcomes today’s announcement that the QPrEP’d study is to be expanded to 3000 places.

PrEP (Pre- Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication that we know prevents HIV transmission if taken as directed.

In early 2016, Hon Cameron Dick Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, announced the funding of 2000 places for the four year QPrEP’d study. The study has been particularly successful at getting PrEP to Queenslanders most at risk of HIV transmission, with 1970 people already accessing the QPreP’d study, and more still importing PrEP from overseas.

The Queensland AIDS Council has been integral to the success of the study, through direct enrolment of participants at Clinic 30 in Brisbane and Hervey Bay, and also through the statewide communication and promotion of the study. Through the peer driven community outreach conducted by QuAC and the range of health promotion targeting at risk communities, we have been able to ensure those of our community most at risk of HIV transmission were aware of the benefits of PrEP and the availability of free PrEP through the study.

“There is no doubt that PrEP has already prevented many new HIV notifications in Queensland, and we recognise the strong leadership taken by Mr Cameron Dick to invest further into HIV prevention in Queensland” said Michael Scott, Executive Director of Queensland AIDS Council.

The announcement of the expansion to the PrEP study follows the HIV Roundtable in Cairns involving clinicians, non- government organisations, researchers, affected community and government, focussing on Indigenous sexual health and in particular the prevention of HIV in North Queensland.

The Roundtable highlighted the meaningful involvement of community programs such as the 2 Spirits Program to prevent HIV transmission at a local Indigenous community level.

The 2 Spirits Program, funded for over 20 years to work with Indigenous gay men and sistergirls to prevent HIV transmission, was earlier this year defunded without evaluation by the Federal Department of Health.

“Because of the urgent need for health promotion, community development and prevention services to Indigenous community, particularly around availability of PrEP, we urge the appropriate resourcing of the 2 Spirits Program to ensure PrEP is made available equally to Indigenous Queenslanders,” said Scott.

For further information contact Michael Scott, Executive Director, Queensland AIDS Council on 0427 138 373 or [email protected]

ENDS

The Queensland AIDS Council was established in 1984 and is a community-based, not-for-profit, registered health promotion charity that works to improve the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Queenslanders, prevent HIV and bu ild the capacity of the community. Media Release – Queensland PrEP Study Expansion

Our LGBTI Resilience Campaign

#LGBTIresilience

Welcome to the #LGBTI Resilience Campaign.

The campaign was developed by Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) to highlight and promote the importance of resilience for LGBTI people and community. QuAC has been supporting the resilience of the LGBTI community since 1984.

The campaign recognises the strength and diversity of our entire LGBTI community. We have faced many challenges, and whilst there will always be some who seek to discriminate, we can be sure that we will draw strength from this as we have done so in the past.

As individuals, and as a community we are powerful. We are diverse. We are resilient.

The LGBTI community is entering into a challenging time. Many of us have already seen and experienced the hurtful and damaging messages put to LGBTI people on social media, at work, or through our family units. As a community, we are facing challenges to our mental health, challenges to our wellbeing, and challenges to our lives.

It’s time to reclaim our mental health and to reclaim the strength that we as a community bring as LGBTI people. We can now use the recent challenges to our community to make us stronger, more creative, and more resilient.

During these times of challenge, it is important to look after yourself as individuals and as a community.

Here are a few practical steps to build resilience, and to support one another:

Log off Social Media

  • It is OK and sometimes important to walk away from social media. The comments we read and the pictures you see can be hurtful.

Stay Active

  • Work within your own means and your own fitness levels. Try to do something active, whether it be going outside, going to the gym, going for a walk, or go dancing. Do an activity that you really enjoy doing.

Recognise your Feelings

  • Recognise and understand your reactions to situations. Now is a good time to step back and take time to acknowledge how you feel, and think about why the words or images are affecting you. Be mindful of how your actions impact on others (sometimes positively).

Connect with People

  • Now is a great time to connect with friends, family, or people who are supportive and encouraging. Now is a great time to make friends, or to join a social group. Surrounding yourself with positive, empowering people is a great way to build resilience.

Eat and Sleep Well

  • Make sure you are taking time for yourself, by eating well and getting enough sleep. A good night’s sleep can be great for the mind and spirit, and can reset the mind for the day ahead.

Relax

  • Relaxing is often much harder than we realise. Take time to relax. Take time to focus on taking a few deep breaths, meditate, or even go to your local park with your favourite book. Take some time out for you.

Support Others Around You

  • Supporting others can be empowering not only for you but for others as well. Support the community. It’s times like these when your passion is reignited. Reach out to your local LGBTI community group, or sports club, or maybe put up your hand as a volunteer. We all have something to offer and as a community we are powerful.

Be Creative

  • A great way to be resilient is to distract your mind from the situation, and refocus on something you love doing. Writing, painting, drawing, or doing yoga are all great examples of unleashing your inner creativity.

Head over to our campaign site at www.lgbtiresilience.com to see more.

HAPPY PRIDE from all of us

Welcome to the new website of the Queensland AIDS Council. Launching at BRISBANE PRIDE seems the perfect place for us to start our new look digital presence as we re-invigorate our digital footprint. Over time we will grow the resources available on this site and evolve its content with the aim of becoming the go-to health and wellbeing portal for the LGBTI community across Queensland. Apart from the services and resources on offer we have very consciously chosen to also create a space where our community stories can be told, and we can keep all of you up to date on what QuAC is doing and the health promotion campaigns that are most current. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the work we do, the following is an overview of the past year and a summary of what QuAC has accomplished.

It’s fair to say that a majority of media attention on LGBTI issues has been focussed this year on marriage equality, and it is somewhat unbelievable that Australia still does not have marriage equality in 2017. Marriage equality is an important issue to QuAC because ultimately it is a health and human rights issue that impacts on thousands of LGBTI Queenslanders. Moving forward, the organisation is deeply concerned about the impact a postal survey, a plebiscite, or any other form of “vote” on our personal lives will make on the community’s mental health.

There has been significant progress in other health areas however. 2016/17 saw the successful implementation of the QPrEPd study, which aimed at providing PrEP to 2000 Queenslanders who were most at risk of HIV transmission. Uptake for the study was significant, and QuAC enlisted 100 people in only 4 weeks by late 2016, with now just over 350 people accessing Clinic 30 for PrEP. Statewide QuAC was pivotal to ensuring Queenslanders became aware of PrEP – something we have been doing for years now through www.comeprepd.info. To date just on 1800 people have been registered for the study.

Clinic 30 has continued to grow throughout the year, with each clinician now at capacity. Providing services to just on 400 people a month, Clinic 30 has established itself as a central part of Brisbane’s HIV and STI testing and treatment, and mental health service delivery. People are attracted to the service because it is a peer based, professional, confidential and LGBTI focussed clinic providing an extensive range of services to LGBTI community members.   

In early 2016, Clinic 30 recognised a number of people were accessing the clinic from Hervey Bay and surrounding areas, with many reporting a lack of services in their region. In response, QuAC worked with the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, and community members to create an expansion of Clinic 30 within Hervey Bay. The QuAC Hervey Bay Clinic opened its doors in April 2017, and is already well utilised. We know the service we are providing is already reducing the incidence of HIV and STIs within the region.

It has been a particularly challenging year for the 2 Spirits Program. In February 2017, QuAC received notification from the Commonwealth that the funding for the 20 year program would cease by the end of the financial year. Funding was also ceased for the similar project within NTAHC. What followed was a significant advocacy campaign to save the projects, with meetings held in Canberra with Federal MPs. In Senate Estimates on 3rd March, the Department admitted the program was defunded without any evaluation, and without any opportunity for feedback. Ultimately, the Department of Health indicated that “sexual and reproductive health was primarily a state and territory responsibility”, and the funding to date has not been renewed.  Despite the lack of funding, QuAC has agreed to continue the 2 Spirits program for another 12 months.

Healthy Communities Programs have enjoyed a very successful year, with Inclusivity and Consultancy Training being oversubscribed throughout the year, and with demand continuing to build. In total over 1000 people have been trained across a series of professions, thus improving the services from these professionals to LGBTI people.

The Seniors Community Visitors Scheme, now in its 5th year, undertook 292 client visits of LGBTI people who otherwise would be socially isolated. The project, supported by a team of volunteer visitors highlights the importance of our work with volunteers to meet people in our community that otherwise would not be accessed.

This year saw the employment of a Trans Health Worker, following the growing demand for trans and gender diverse services across the sector. Whilst not a funded position, QuAC recognises the need for trans services and service delivery and made a commitment to create this position and build our services into the trans community. 2016 saw the first Transgender World AIDS Day event, and the inaugural Trans Community Awards, recognising services to the trans community across Queensland.   

Our outreach to communities around health promotion has continued throughout the year, with outreach now happening across Brisbane, Cairns, Toowoomba, and now Hervey Bay. A team of volunteers now promotes our sexual health messaging on a weekly basis, and is easily able to adapt to the changing community. In addition to a presence in pubs and clubs, we continue to conduct health promotion messaging through social media, online media, and phone apps where our communities meet. Our online PrEP campaign www.comeprepd.info remains a significant source of information for people accessing PrEP, and our new online campaign #ready4sex will continue to provide health promotion messaging to our community.

QuAC remained central to the needs, rights and advocacy for LGBTI health throughout 2016/17, and will no doubt continue to do so throughout the next year. With challenges around marriage equality, with PrEP still not available on the PBS and with ongoing discrimination against LGBTI people, there is still a lot of work to be done through the coming year. I want to thank our staff and volunteers for their hard work and commitment to LGBTI health throughout the year and highlight the impact all are making to a safer, more inclusive Queensland for LGBTI people throughout 2018.   

Michael Scott, Executive Director

Queensland AIDS Council