HIV specialist service Adahps is marking 20 years of providing free specialist support for people living with HIV across New South Wales.

The state-wide service, formerly known as the NSW AIDS Dementia and HIV Psychiatry Service, supports people living with HIV/AIDS who initially required 24 hour care, to be able to live independently in the community.

Adahps specialises in supporting people who are HIV positive with cognitive impairment and complex health issued caused by HIV. A neuropsychologist will travel anywhere in NSW to conduct neuropsychological assessments for clients suspected of having cognitive impairment related to HIV.

Service coordinator Jennifer Thompson said Adahps is a genuinely integrated and holistic service, providing case management support, neuropsychological assessment and brokered care to people with HIV associated neurocognitive disorder as well as specialist accommodation for people with HIV and complex issues related to their HIV.

“Our clients present with very high levels of vulnerability and complexity. Not only are they living with HIV and cognitive impairment, but also, for many, a range of other stigmatised issues such as unemployment, homelessness and substance use,” Thompson said.

“Despite improvements in treatments, Adahps client numbers have remained fairly constant over the last 20 years. This is largely because although HIV infection rates have markedly decreased, the prevalence of HIV related cognitive impairment is increasing as people with HIV live longer and grow older.

“Increased use of crystal methamphetamine is also impacting Adahps clients, significantly adding to the level of complexity of client situations and challenges.”

The small collaborative Adahps team case manage clients based anywhere within NSW, offering support to clients in rural areas and metropolitan areas where there are no outreach services, and shared case management in metropolitan Sydney where local HIV teams are able to take on the primary case management role.

“Over the past 20 years, Adahps has remained focused on obtaining the best outcomes for our clients, despite the varied and complex challenges and pressures of working with such a highly marginalised group of people,” said Thompson.

“We look forward to continuing to provide an exemplary service to our clients, whilst also raising awareness within the community that HIV related neurocognitive impairment and HIV associated dementia remain a risk to people living with HIV.”

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