The Kirby Institute has launched a new study called RISE, which will explore the experiences and wellbeing of people recently diagnosed with HIV in Australia.

The research centre, which is based at the University of New South Wales, will also look at the impact of support services on people living with HIV.

The Kirby Institute says RISE – which stands for Recent diagnosis and the Impact of Support on the Experiences of HIV – will be the first study in the world to take an in-depth look at the contemporary experiences of people diagnosed with HIV.

RISE’s co-ordinator Brent Clifton says the study will be a landmark in determining the effects of significant recent advances in HIV treatment and support.

“Although we have come a long way in the past thirty years, with improvements to medications and knowing that treatment as prevention works, being diagnosed with HIV is still a significant event for an individual,” Clifton said.

“By engaging with the experiences of people who have recently been diagnosed with HIV, we’re hoping to find out why some people living with HIV today experience better care and wellbeing outcomes than others, and ultimately uncover the data that will allow us to fill these gaps.”

Lead researcher on the study Associate Professor Garrett Prestage said that the study’s results will help services understand how better to respond to areas of need.

“When we look at people’s experiences along the continuum of care, from prior to HIV diagnosis, through to diagnosis and ongoing treatment, we are still seeing gaps in the ways different groups of people are engaging with services, and in their general wellbeing,” Prestage said

Despite overall drops in HIV diagnoses, transmission rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders remain significantly higher than for non-Indigenous people born in Australia.

There are also rising rates of transmission among men who have sex with men born overseas, and there has been a 10 per cent increase in new diagnoses among heterosexual people in the past year.

HIV education and support are delivered differently by different services across Australia, leading to a lack of systemic data on the outcomes of support and awareness programs and services, which RISE will seek to address.

The study will also look at the personal factors that contribute to an individual’s experience of being diagnosed and living with HIV, with those behind the study hoping that a comprehensive overview will provide an understand of what works and what could improve.

“By speaking with people across the country who have been recently diagnosed with HIV, we are confident that their insights will give us a better understanding of how we are tracking as a nation with our current supports, and hopefully enable the development of better services that truly meet the needs of people living with HIV today,” Clifton said.

RISE is seeking to engage with people living with HIV who have been diagnosed since 2016 are aged 16 years old and over.

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