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Treatment as Prevention (TasP): What is TasP and How Does it Affect Me?

Posted on Wednesday, November 02, 2016

What is an Undetectable Viral Load?

HIV treatment can reduce a person’s viral load – the amount of virus in blood and other bodily fluids – until it is ‘undetectable’, unable to be measured by current standard lab tests. Having an undetectable viral load is not a cure for HIV. There is still HIV present in the body but it cannot be measured. Importantly, recent research shows it cannot be passed on to other people.

What is Treatment as Prevention?

Relying on an undetectable viral load to prevent passing on HIV is called Treatment as Prevention. Recent research has shown that there is negligible risk of passing on HIV if a person has an undetectable viral load. Data released from the PARTNER Study in 2016 found there were no HIV transmissions between 888 sero-discordant heterosexual and gay couples – who between them had condomless sex an estimated 58,213 times – where the HIV Positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml.

A couple may rely on an undetectable viral load as a means of HIV prevention if the following conditions are met:

  • Viral load must have been undetectable for at least 6 months. This is measured by a viral load test which measures the amount of virus in a person’s blood. While the amount of virus present in other fluids such as semen or vaginal fluids may differ, recent research shows that an undetectable viral load indicates that there is negligible risk of HIV transmission.
  • Medication must be taken as prescribed. Strict adherence to medication is important in achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load. Missed doses can lead to medication being less effective, increasing your viral load and the possibility of developing resistance to the drug you are taking.
  • There are no other STIs. For people with multiple partners regular STI checks are important.

Making Choices about HIV Prevention

Treatment as Prevention is viewed as being a reliable protection against HIV. Some couples choose to rely on Treatment as Prevention for HIV prevention. Others prefer the reassurance that comes with combining an undetectable viral load with condoms. Some couples may rely on condoms but use Treatment as Prevention at specific times in their life, such as when they want to conceive a baby. Increasingly doctors are reluctant to prescribe measures such as PrEP for sero-different couples as a prevention method if the HIV positive partner has an undetectable viral load and good adherence to medication.

While HIV medication can reduce the chance of passing on HIV to negligible it does not prevent other STIs. It is important to use condoms to prevent other STIs and have regular STI checks if you are having sex with multiple partners or if you are unaware of your partner’s STI status. Contraception is also important if you wish to prevent pregnancy. It is also important to be aware that not everyone living with HIV will be able to reduce their viral load to undetectable. In that case condoms and PrEP are alternative methods of HIV prevention.

If you need further help in making decisions about HIV prevention our Peer Support Officer at Straight Arrows can be a good person to talk to, as can your HIV doctor.

TWO iN ONE: Managing HIV and Hepatits C

Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Living with both HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) can be difficult, but new treatments and developments have changed everything. Come join a discussion with experts on HIV and HCV and learn about the new treatments, how to reduce your risk, new methods of prevention, and living well with HIV and HCV.

The Hare Hole at Hares & Hyenas
63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065

Wednesday, 24th August 2016, 6:30pm

Light refreshments provided

Melanie Eagle (Hepatitis Victoria)
Brent Allan (Living Positive Victoria)
Joel Murray (The Positive Speakers Bureau)
Dr Joe Sasadeusz (The Royal Melbourne Hospital)

Double Hey is Double Happiness - TasP loves PrEP

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2016

On Thursday the 16th June Living Positive Victoria and its partners, including the Victorian AIDS Council, VicPrEP and PrEP Access Now among others launched their Double Happiness Campaign. This is the marriage of Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and PrEP.

TasP is where a person who is HIV-positive uses anti-HIV drugs to reduce the virus in their bloodstream to an undetectable level. Although HIV is still present in their bodies, it is so low that passing on HIV through sex is highly unlikely (by at least 93%).

PrEP is where a person who does not have HIV takes anti-HIV drugs to prevent them becoming HIV-positive. When taken daily and with regular three monthly sexual health check-ups, it reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 99%.

Together TasP and PrEP provide HIV-positive and HIV-negative people the opportunity to both take steps to prevent HIV transmission.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy spoke of the power to prevent new HIV transmissions using TasP and PrEP in todays' society and was followed by a member of the Positive Speakers Bureau and a PreP user. This launch sends Victoria into a new era of HIV healthcare and is fast becoming a world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Chin Wag - What's new and what's changed in HIV

Posted on Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Join us on Monday October 12th to hear the latest on treatments, new research, PrEP and PEP, community dispensing and living well with HIV. Panellists include Professor Jenny Hoy, Vic Perri (Living Positive Victoria), Dr Vincent Cornelisse (Centre Clinic) and Cath Smith (HIV Stigma Warrior).

Download the flyer:

chin wag chin wag (326 KB)

HIV: What’s Changed and What’s New?

Posted on Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Thursday October 8th, University of Melbourne Theatre, Shepparton. A forum for people living with HIV and those working in the sector in the Hume region. 

This forum is held by Straight Arrows and Living Positive Victoria in partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health and Goulburn Valley Health. It will provide:

  • The latest information about HIV treatments and recent research
  • The opportunity to hear the stories of local people living with HIV
  • Information about the peer based services available to people living with HIV in the Hume region
  • Information on recent changes to the way services and treatments are delivered to PLHIV such as community dispensing

A wonderful selection of speakers has been arranged including keynote speaker and moderator Rowena Allen, Gender and Sexuality Commissioner; Cath Smith, Stigma Warrior and local woman living with HIV and Director of Positive Women Victoria; Suzanne Wallis, Sexual Health Nurse Practitioner at Goulburn Valley Health; Richard Keane, Director of Living Positive Victoria; and Matt Powell, Peer Support Worker at Straight Arrows. 

This will be an interactive forum with a moderated panel of guests and the opportunity for the audience to engage directly with the panellists. Light refreshments will be served.

Download the flyer:

HIV: What's new and what's changed HIV: What's new and what's changed (736 KB)

World AIDS Day 2014

Posted on Friday, November 28, 2014

Monday December 1st is World AIDS Day. There are many fabulous events taking place this week. Living Positive Victoria together with the Victorian AIDS Council will be running an event at Federation Square from 9:00am. Then later n the day, as always, Straight Arrows will be joining in with the Positive Living Centre in their annual commemoration. For more information on World AIDS Day events go to http://www.worldaidsday.org.au/internet/wad/publishing.nsf/content/events-1

New Vodcast series from ERC

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014

The ERC is proud to announce the launch of a new vodcast series on HIV.

The vodcasts are:
   HIV1: Introduction to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus
   HIV2: Sexual Transmission and Prevention 
   HIV3: Non-sexual Transmission and Prevention

These vodcasts aim to provide introductory level information to people working in the health and community sector. They are designed to be accessible and informative for those with limited background knowledge in health, and who will benefit from the knowledge in their work with people who are or may be affected by HIV.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the numerous people involved in the production and review of the vodcasts, and welcome further feedback on these or other vodcasts on the ERC website 

News: The wait is over

Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2014

Article from the NAPWHA website by Adrian Ogier, 20 March 2014 

Until April 2014, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) did not allow doctors to prescribe HIV treatment to people with CD4 counts above 500 who had no clinical symptoms.

This barrier has now been removed, and today anyone in Australia with HIV who has a Medicare card can receive subsidised treatment through the PBS.

Whether you choose to start treatment or not is something you need to think carefully about in consultation with your doctor.

Read the rest of the article at the original post.

Adelaide researchers claim breakthrough in tackling HIV and hepatitis C with DNA vaccine

Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Article from http://www.abc.net.au by Caroline Winter 26/03/2014

A new type of DNA vaccine which protects against the viruses could possibly provide a cure in five years. Adelaide University's Professor Eric Gowans says the vaccine has already had positive results in animals, with human trials to start next year.

Read the rest of the article at the original post.

Call for Contributions to HIV Australia Magazine

Posted on Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The enabling environment: fostering effective responses to HIV in Australia and our region – HIV Australia magazine volume 12.2 (special edition for AIDS 2014). This edition of HIV Australia focuses on how an enabling environment is essential to achieving effective responses to HIV. Articles will reflect on specific aspects of the HIV response, highlighting laws, policies and other factors which have enabled success, as well as outlining challenges that remain unaddressed. We invite contributors to draw on successful examples from Australia and to compare and contrast these with examples from Asia and the Pacific. What lessons can be drawn from the Australian partnership response and the strong framework of laws in place here? What can be learned from innovative responses from across the region?

We want to hear perspectives from affected communities from Australia and the region about initiatives that support HIV prevention, care and support and harm reduction practices, coupled with discussion and debate about current legal, political and social environments that support or prevent best practice.

We anticipate that many articles will focus on the leading role played by specific communities highlighting initiatives targeting key populations such as: gay men and other who men have sex with men, people with HIV, women, heterosexual and gay men from, and travelling to and from high HIV prevalence countries; Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people; people who inject drugs, sex workers, and trans people.

Suggested topics contributors may wish to explore: 

  • HIV and the law: contemporary debates around criminalisation and protective laws in the context of gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, people with HIV and other affected communities.
  • Sex work and decriminalisation – world best practice examples from Australia and New Zealand.
  • Discussion of Australia’s partnership response and its regional connections.
Embedding human rights into the HIV response: human rights, gender equality, treatments access. Peer-based projects to increase community access to HIV testing.
  • Sexual orientation and the law; rights laws and policies protecting LGBTI citizens; the impact of stigma, discrimination and violence on responses to HIV.
  • How to provide accessible, non-discriminatory HIV and STI prevention, testing and treatment to key populations.
  • Australia’s health system.
  • Health policy infrastructure: prescribing guidelines and testing policies.
  • Fostering community leaders and community networks to engage with government, health care providers, planners, global donors and other stakeholders.
  • What do accessible policy, program and health system responses to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services for people with disabilities look like?
  • New prescribing guidelines and the impact of treatments access for people with HIV.
  • PrEP: capitalising on new research and turning it into action. Travel and migration restrictions for people with HIV in our region.
  • Media reporting, visibility and awareness of HIV; the role of the media in public education; engaging and educating the media; the development of media discourse about HIV in Australia and the region. Positive role models in the media; media produced by affected communities.
  • The legacy of AIDS 2014: what opportunities will this bring Australia and the region? Capacity building and regional partnerships – case studies.
  • Australia and our regional community partners and networks.
  • Access to needle and syringe programs. How can we leverage that success into hep C? Actions, treatments activism alliances and coalitions; prisons and injecting.

Contributors may also wish to suggest other topics. 
Deadline for contributions is 26 May 2014.

If you are interested in contributing to this edition, please email or phone Finn O’Keefe to outline your proposal at: fokeefe@afao.org.au or by phoning: (02) 8568 1113.

This content is also available on a pdf to download.