AUSTRALIAN researchers have teamed up in an initiative to help support good quality of life for people living with HIV.

The partnership between La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and ViiV Healthcare is developing a world-first quality of life measurement scale to evaluate and improve services and support for people with HIV.

Dr Graham Brown from ARCSHS said despite massive advances in treatments and life expectancy, many challenges still remain for people with HIV.

“People still have to deal with managing stigma, connection to community, and relationships,” he said. “All those things impact on health and wellbeing.”

Dr Brown said many community services and resources exist to help people with HIV enhance their quality of life, but until now a simple tool to monitor wellbeing hasn’t been developed.

“It’s hard for community programs to know if they’re working or what they need to do to improve,” he said.

Quality of life scales do exist but are generally “very long” and often impractical for use. The new tool will be brief and easy to use, as well as specially tailored to the issues facing people with HIV.

The new initiative follows NAPWHA’s Good Quality of Life campaign, which features insights from different members of the community, explaining how they live fulfilling lives and offering peer support.

Dr Brown said the new quality of life tool will allow people to answer just a few questions to conveniently monitor their quality of life. It will be useful for people to manage their own wellbeing, and for community services to evaluate their effectiveness. It may be developed into different formats such as an app in the future.

“The questions will be simple and easy enough so that they can be used by any community or health organisation in whatever format works best for them,” Dr Brown said.

The new tool is being developed with the direct input of the HIV positive community using an online survey. The survey is open until the end of May.

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