QUEENSLAND Positive People (QPP) has launched a series of short films exploring the inspiring and diverse stories of people living with HIV which highlight that treatment is different now.

The Talking About Treatment films depict the real-life stories of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and aim to increase understanding that treatment options have become so effective, the virus can be suppressed to levels that are below detection. This not only greatly improves health and wellbeing of PLHIV, but also reduces the risk of onward transmission.

[showads ad=MREC] One film participant, Jarad, recalls the day he discovered he’d achieved an undetectable viral load: “Being HIV-positive and being undetectable means you can feel empowered and like you’re in control of your health.  It was a big thing for me.”

QPP executive officer Simon O’Connor remembers the early treatments.

“In the beginning, the available drugs were not tolerated as well as the treatments we have today, and for many PLHIV, the side effects were significant and debilitating.  Many PLHIV had a heavy ‘pill burden’, meaning that they were required to take handfuls of pills every day,” he said.

“Treatment is different now and for many people, it’s only a single pill a day that allows PLHIV to live a healthier and more normal lifespan.  We are keen for newly diagnosed PLHIV to hear about and consider the personal benefits in commencing and adhering to HIV treatment.  Our aim is to increase awareness of just how far treatment has advanced.

“QPP is proud to present its second film campaign highlighting experiences of PLHIV in their own words and on their own terms.  We believe that the inclusion of the lived experience is vital and inextricable in any response to effectively fight HIV.”

As Campbell says in the film: “I’m controlling HIV, HIV’s not controlling me.”

It’s estimated that among Queensland’s HIV-positive population, 85 per cent of PLHIV are on treatment. This means the majority of PLHIV have access to treatment to improve their health, and this campaign provides a platform for these voices to assist fellow PLHIV who may still be considering the best time for them to treat.

QPP encourages all PLHIV to become involved by sharing their own story – which will assist others seeking support on their individual journeys – through the website’s online submission form at www.qpp.net.au/get-talking.

The films feature long-term survivors and the recently diagnosed. Reflecting the diversity of experiences, participants include a mother of five, an Aboriginal man, an older man, and young gay men.  Each of them offers a unique and powerful perspective of the HIV treatment response over the decades.

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