Four HIV community organisations have received a share in almost $155,000 funding through ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Community Grants (PACG) program.

The grants support local organisations to implement programs responding to some of the most pressing issues facing people living with HIV, including testing, stigma, treatment and quality of life.

The 2017 program has awarded grants to the National Association of People with HIV Australia for an HIV and ageing program, Living Positive Victoria for a peer liaison program in general practice clinics, Queensland Positive People for a stigma reduction program, and Positive Women Victoria for a research project looking at the needs of women from African diaspora communities living with HIV.

“Ensuring our future response to HIV is effective and relevant requires the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV,” said Oonagh Rocks, ViiV Healthcare Australia’s community affairs manager.

“That’s why, at ViiV Healthcare, we believe it is crucial that communities have the resources to develop and implement programs that are relevant to their community members. By allocating vital funds where they are needed most, we hope that a real, lasting and positive impact on Australia’s HIV community can be achieved.”

With 44 per cent of Australians living with HIV expected to be aged over 55 by 2020, the National Association of People with HIV Australia will use its grant to explore the challenges facing the ageing population and develop an advocacy agenda.

“Our PACG grant will support research into the emerging issues relating to ageing with HIV in Australia, such as the impact of co-morbidities. This will enable us to plan and respond to this urgent challenge facing the country’s ageing and disability sectors, to meet the future needs of Australia’s HIV population,” said executive director Aaron Cogle.

Living Positive Victoria’s grant will support community-led action by placing a peer liaison officer in four high HIV-positive case load general practice clinics across Melbourne to respond to these gaps and improve linkage to HIV care for PLHIV in Victoria.

“The immediacy of peer contact for people newly diagnosed with HIV cannot be understated, not only providing support for the individual at a crucial time, but increasing the likelihood of people living with HIV remaining in care and not being lost in follow up. Our PACG grant will go a long way in supporting us to improve treatment outcomes for people living with HIV in Victoria,” said acting CEO Suzy Malhotra.

With stigma still one of the major factors influencing the wellbeing of people living with HIV, Queensland Positive People will be provided with a grant to support the development of a stigma resilience workshop and module for peer navigators.

“Queensland differs to other states in that a large percentage of the population reside in rural and regional locations making them more vulnerable to social isolation and experiences of stigma and discrimination. By holding peer-led workshops in both Brisbane and in rural Queensland we aim to reach people living with HIV right across Queensland,” said program manager Chris Howard.

With approximately half of women recently diagnosed with HIV in Australia coming from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including a large percentage from Sub-Saharan Africa, Positive Women Victoria will use its grant to lead a qualitative research project to improve understanding of the needs of African-born women living with HIV.

“With the support of PACG, we’re implementing research to improve understanding of their needs and we hope to see this lead to positive outcomes for these women, including earlier linkage to testing and care services, a reduction in stigma and discrimination, and improvement in their quality of life,” said CEO Alison Boughey.

The Positive Action Community Grants program is now in its third year. More information about the program is available online.

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