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Self-testing for HIV will soon be available for Australians

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Peter Dutton says self-testing kits can be sold by manufacturers direct to customers. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/AAP

Australians will soon be able to test themselves for HIV after the federal government announced that restrictions preventing the manufacture and sale of self-testing kits had been lifted.

The government has unveiled its 2014-2017 national strategies on HIV, hepatitis B and C, sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and a special strategy on targeting blood-borne viruses and STIs in the Indigenous community.

Its “ambitious” HIV strategy aims to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015, as a key step towards a 2020 elimination target.

To help it achieve this goal the government has removed a restriction preventing the manufacture and sale of HIV home self-test kits.

The health minister, Peter Dutton, said on Monday that companies can now apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for approval to supply their test kits, which will be able to be sold direct to customers.

Dutton also announced that from next July those living with HIV will be able to access their medicine from a pharmacy of their choice, rather than a hospital.

The head of infectious diseases at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne, Professor Sharon Lewin, said the HIV strategy set some “ambitious targets”.

“Australia has taken a rather bold step working towards eliminating new HIV infections by 2020,” she said.

“The increased availability of testing and greater ease of accessing treatment through community-based pharmacies will both greatly assist in reducing new infections.”

There were 1,200 new HIV infections last year and the highest prevalence of HIV in Australia is still among gay men.

“A big challenge will be in eliminating new infections in men who have sex with men,” Lewin said.

Meanwhile, the government plans to halve the incidence of new hepatitis C infections by 2017.

Chronic hepatitis C affects about 230,000 people in Australia and is a leading cause of liver cancer.

Dutton said the TGA recently approved a new hepatitis C treatment called sofosbuvir (Sovaldi, Gilead).

This treatment can reduce treatment time and increase cure rates for hepatitis C to 90%.

Hepatitis Australia, which worked with the government to develop the national strategies, said immediate action was needed to halt the rising rates of new infections and “appallingly low levels of treatment”.

“Without urgent investment in rigorous treatment programs, Australia will continue to fail in its efforts to halt escalating rates of serious liver disease due to chronic hepatitis B or C,” said Hepatitis Australia’s acting chief executive, Kevin Marriott.

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Mental Health Month NSW 2014 – Small Grant applications close 18 July 2014.

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There are a range of small grants you can apply for:

       5 grants of $1000 and 20 grants of $500 for projects focusing on any sector of the community.

       2 grants of $1000 and 6 grants of $500 for projects focusing specifically on Indigenous communities.

       1 grants of $1000 and 5 grants of $500 for projects focusing specifically on Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

       4 grants of $1000 and 2 grants of $500 for projects focusing specifically on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. These grants are sponsored by ACON. 

 

For more information:  http://www.mentalhealth.asn.au/well-being/campaigns/mental-health-month-nsw.html

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CONGRATULATIONS and WELL DONE KARUMAH

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CONGRATULATIONS and WELL DONE KARUMAH

It’s the end of the financial year and Karumah has completed its first full year of our  chronic care self-management ‘outreach program’ . The results have been outstanding and the response fantastic. We have far exceeded all our targets the program is really working. A big thank you to our supportive and dedicated board, our tireless volunteers and Karumah staff who have made it all possible. Long live Karumah.

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Thank you …..

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We have a number of dedicated and committed volunteers at the moment. It is hard to measure the impact they have and even more difficult to show them how much their silent work is appreciated. Karumah is planning a ‘Thank You”  event for our volunteers details will be out soon.

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NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC Week is held in the first full week of July. It is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society. To participate in a NAIDOC event near you, view the events Calendar on the Official NAIDOC website http://www.naidoc.org.au/events-calendar

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Mens Group – Karumah

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At our recent Men’s Health Workshop at Karumah it was decided to have ongoing groups on men’s health. The idea is to have the groups facilitated until the group becomes self-sustaining. The next Men’s Group will be Thursday July 17th at Karumah from 10.30 to 11.30am will be facilitated by Greg Milan so come along have a cuppa and share some insights. MEN ONLY!! then join us for lunch.

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Tree of Hope – calendar events

LEWISHAM:

25 June – Drop In Time (incl light lunch) 23 August – Photographic Digital Workshop (Saturday 10-4pm) 27 August – Drop In (incl. light lunch)

LIVERPOOL: 31 July – Social Gathering For more information or to RSVP please call Marg on 9509 1240 (direct) or treeofhope@catholiccare.org

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Peer to Peer

Peer to Peer

Hi Folks! A reminder about our next discussion group, Peer to Peer for poz gay men, on Thursday 12 June from 6:30pm. Come along and meet up with like-minded folks and chat about the things that matter to you. A light meal will be served, so please RSPV to Hédimo on 9206 2173. Peer to Peer is an inclusive discussion group for all gay men with HIV, no matter what age, background or length of diagnosis. It is an opportunity for HIV-positive gay men to get together and talk openly to each other about the issues that affect them in a safe and friendly environment. It is also an opportunity for guys to strengthen their friendship networks while sharing information and strategies to enhance their health and wellbeing. SURRY HILLS: 13 June – Social Gathering 11 July – Social Gathering

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Harry’s Huddle

This month’s Harry Huddle was AWESOME!!

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A huge thank you to Mark “Feathers” Fowler who provided us with a fantastic afternoon and some of the best food I have had in a long time. Mark’s talent for entertaining was second to none and we all had a lovely afternoon at the Orchid Farm. I have never seen so many orchids in my life and had no idea there were so many different species. It was amazing and some of them smelt beautiful.

Besides the incredible food and company, Mark treated us to spectacular Mai Tai’s. We had some new people there and everyone got on really well. It was incredible to see everyone enjoying the sun, the afternoon and the space we have created to be together and support each other.

Harry Huddle isn’t a normal support/social/discussion group…. it is a group that cares about each other and besides discussing the challenges of living with Harry, it is incredible to be able to also celebrate the achievements we are having in our lives in spite of Harry.

I am very proud of all of us and of what we are achieving and doing with our lives and would like to thank everyone who is part of Harry Huddle for giving me, and hopefully others, a place where I belong and a place where living with, achieving in spite of and beating the consequences of Harry is normal and part of our shared lives.

Love and appreciation to you all.

Our next Harry Huddle will be at the Hale and I am yet to confirm a date but will let you all know as soon as possible.

Take care, stay well and keep on thriving!!!!

Regards,

Robyn Adams

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