Optimised health for people living with HIV amid pandemic

Morgan Liotta

8/04/2020 12:46:34 PM

A new taskforce is set to respond to the impacts of coronavirus on HIV and other blood-borne viruses.

Blood test
The taskforce will deliver guidance to the healthcare workforce and people living with BBVs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health (ASHM) has launched a national taskforce on blood-borne viruses (BBVs), sexual health and COVID-19.
The taskforce brings together a group of top BBV researchers and clinicians to identify, discuss and address challenges to the BBV healthcare system during the pandemic, to then deliver expert guidance to the workforce and communities.
It provides opportunity for the BBV and sexual health sectors to discuss the scientific, clinical, BBV, and sexual health service delivery and social implications of COVID-19.
ASHM anticipates that the pandemic will create critical challenges to the health system that will arise across treatment, care, support and prevention for people living with BBVs, including:

  • changes in access to medications
  • access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in BBV settings
  • possible changes to clinical guidance during the pandemic
  • support around specific challenges faced by people living with HIV and other BBVs.
The taskforce has been developed to lead Australia’s response to these challenges by providing consistent and evidence-based messaging.
Infectious diseases specialist and Chair of the taskforce, Associate Professor Edwina Wright, said constantly emerging new data on the pandemic is creating a need for ‘ongoing expert analysis and advice’.
‘This taskforce will provide vital guidance and rapid analysis of that data, to ensure better outcomes for the health of people living with HIV and other BBVs and their healthcare workforce,’ she said.
Under its remit, the taskforce will provide:
  • expert guidance on the prevention of COVID-19 in healthcare settings
  • support and advice to the BBV sector and BBV-affected communities to respond to the challenges of social distancing, quarantine and isolation
  • guidance on the delivery and streamlining of clinical care to people living with BBVs
  • ongoing analysis of emerging data on COVID-19 clinical risk factors and how they apply to people living with HIV and other BBVs
  • rapid analysis of the results of COVID-19 clinical treatment trials
  • guidance to the healthcare workforce and people living with BBVs on how to manage their health during the pandemic
  • opportunities for people living with HIV and other BBVs to participate in upcoming treatment and vaccine trials for COVID-19.
ASHM CEO Alexis Apostolellis underlined that ‘even at the best of times’ people affected by HIV and viral hepatitis face multiple barriers to accessing basic healthcare.
‘We are expecting Australia’s healthcare system to come under significant strain during this epidemic, and that is precisely the time to support our workforce and their patient populations.’
The taskforce will focus on key areas of work linking to COVID-19, in relation to the BBV and sexual health care workforce and the delivery of health services to people affected by BBVs and needing sexual health care. The taskforce states that these areas are an indicative starting point only, and the focus may shift as new issues emerge.
An FAQ page is also available for healthcare workers and patients covering common questions about COVID-19 and people in the LGBTQI community who may be living with HIV or other BBVs, or taking PrEP.
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blood-borne viruses coronavirus COVID-19 HIV sexual health

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