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Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference 2nd last day

17 September, 2015

Summary covering the second last day of the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference. Please read on…

Eric Hunter on HIV transmissionProfessor Sharon Lewin () & Professor Robert Grant  chaired a plenary with Dr Eric Hunter (pictured left) who spoke about the host and viral factors of HIV-1 transmission, Professor Edward Gane who made a strong case that we will be able to eliminate the silent global Hepatitis C epidemic and explored some of the latest developments in this area, Professor Jeffrey Klausner (@drklausner) who discussed new technologies (such as mobile apps and social media) and innovative methods (e.g. condom delivery service, hairdresser education to promote sexual health) to facilitate HIV prevention, testing and care, and finally Midnight Poonkasetwattana (@apcom) who called for a faster, more immediate, and urgent response from MSM in Asia.

The story of Hepatitis C () was simultaneously alarming but hopeful. HCV has overtaken Hepatitis B as the leading cause of liver-disease related mortality. An estimated 80 million people worldwide live with HCV (with some 250,000 in Australia). A NYC study showed that 94% of HCV/HIV co-infected people died prematurely (at 54 years old on average). Needle exchange programs are effective way of reducing infections with some 41% of countries having needle exchange programs. In Australia, needle exchange programs have helped reduce new HCV infections by 80%. A cure for HCV is available, but it does not prevent reinfection and targeting risk-behaviour remains a primary prevention strategy. Despite the availability of a cure, however, only 1% of people with HCV worldwide are receiving treatment. 

partyFrankly, I was surprised to see so many delegates attending the morning plenary talks. The Joint Conference Dinner at Brisbane City Hall the night before was huge, and I mean huge! I have never seen a group of academics have so much fun on a dance floor ever before! I have attended conferences on linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology and ethnomusicology all over the world, but I have never, and I mean never, seen almost every single delegate at the conference dinner get up on the dance floor to move their bodies. Kudos to you AIDS researchers! Kudos to you!!! I think this kind of spirit is demonstrative of a population of researchers who are open-hearted, full of drive, and very community-oriented! Kudos also to The Accidents for being such a fantastic band!

Here are the panels that were featured today:

Criminalisation chaired by Bridget Haire and Sharna Quigely

  • “Continuing to punish vulnerability: The futility of criminalisation” presented by Charles Chauvel, Team Leader, Inclusive Political Processes, Bureau for Policy & Programme Support, United Nations Development Programme, New York, USA
  • “Danger! Danger! Criminal endangerment oences are an obstacle to the HIV response” presented by Paul Kidd (@paulkidd), Chair, Victorian HIV Legal Working Group, Past President, Living Positive VIC, Australia
  • “Tracking in Persons protocols – what effect do they have on sex work and HIV prevention in the Pacific” presented by Professor Heather Worth, Chair, UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee; Director, GlobalHealth@UNSW; Director, International HIV Research Group, UNSW, Australia
  • “Criminalisation of Sex work and HIV – Exploring their intersection” presented by Cameron Cox (@CamCoxSyd), Chief Executive Officer, Sex Workers Outreach Project Inc (SWOP,) NSW, Australia
  • Spitting and Mandatory BBV Testing – Dragging us Back to the 80s” presented by Michael Frommer and Linda Forbes
  • Criminalisation and Responsibilisation: A Case Study of Victorian Responses to Intentional HIV Transmission” presented by Larissa Sandy

Aborigional and Torres Strait Islander Symposium chaired by Andrew Jolivette and sponsored by AbbVie

  • The Human T Lymphotropic Virus type 1 subtype c: a major cause of morbidity and mortality for the Aboriginal people in central Australia presented by Dr Lloyd Einsiedel, Associate Director Research, Aboriginal Health, BakerIDI, Alice Springs Hospital, NT Australia
  • What’s different about the novel Australian virus subtype; HTLV-1c presented by Professor Damian Purcell, Head, Molecular Virology Laboratory, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  • STI/HIV Concordance Testing: Findings from the Strive Study presented by Associate Professor James Ward, Head Aboriginal Health Infectious Diseases South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  • Improving the Treatment Cas- cade for HIV Positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People at Cairns Sexual Health presented by Joanne Leamy and Melanie Kielly-Terare
  • Gumbuya: Improving the treatment cascade for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island people presented by Dr Darren Russell, Director, Sexual Health, Cairns Hospital; Chair, HIV Foundation Qld, Australia Professor Martyn French, Professor and Consultant, Clinical Immunology, University of Western Australia and Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA, Australia

HIV Epidemiology in the Region chaired by Andrew Vallely and Catherine O’Connor

  • Survival Trends for HIV+ Patients Receiving First Line ART from the TREAT Asia HIV Observational Database (TAHOD-LITE) presented by Nicole De La Mata
  • Sexual Behaviour, Condom Use and HIV Prevalence in Remote Areas of Papua New Guinea presented by Kevin Miley
  • Integrating Couple HIV Counseling and Testing (CHCT) on Ante Natal Care (ANC) service in Bali – Indonesia presented by Ni Wayan Septarini
  • Evolution of HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutations in NSW Over 10 Years presented by Angie Pinto
  • PLHIV in Sero-Discordant Relationships: Changes in Viral Load and Sexual Practices from 1997 to 2012 presented by Jennifer Power

OscillahOpportunities and challenges for HIV diagnostics, monitoring nd management in the Asia & Pacific regions chaired by Patricia Price and Michelle O’Connor

  • Challenges in HIV diagnostics monitoring in resource limited settings in Asia Pacific – setting the scene presented by Levinia Crooks
  • Challenges in HIV diagnostics experiences from: Papua New Guinea Samoa presented by Oscillah Kaminiel (pictured right) and Sandra Semi
  • Experiences & opportunities in the use of dried blood spots in resource limited settings presented by Philip Cunningham
  • Development and Evaluation of a Simple, Filter Paper-Based Method of Plasma Separation and Storage to Enhance Accurate Virological Monitoring of HIV Patients in RLS presented by Berhan Ayele Haile
  • Cognitive evaluation needs in HIV patients; experience from Indonesia presented by Riwanti Estiasari (a research project for neuroanthropologists to consider)

Interferons/ Inflammation chaired by Tony Kelleher and Patricia Price:

  • Bone marrow transplantation, GVHD and HIV presented by Professor Geoff Hill, NHMRC Australia and QLD Health Senior Clinical Research Fellow. Director of Research, Cancer Care Services Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  • Understanding and measuring the footprint of CMVin a positive life presented by Associate Professor Patricia Price, Principal Research Fellow, Curtin University, WA, Australia
  • HIV-related innate immune imprinting persists in HIV patients receiving antiretroviral therapy presented by Associate Professor Anthony Jaworowski, Head, Jaworowski Laboratory & Principal Fellow, Burnet Institute, VIC, Australia
  • Contrasting effects of IFN-alpha on immune responses in HIV infection presented by Dr Sonia Fernandez, Research Associate, School of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Translational Immunology Unit, University of WA, Australia
  • The Impact of HIV and Hepatitis B Virus on Hepatic Stellate Cell Activation Using a Novel in Vitro System (625) presented by Kasha Singh

ARV Guidelines Session 1 – When and What to Start chaired by Julian Elliott (@jhjelliott)

  • Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) Study – Primary Results presented by Professor Jennifer Hoy, Director HIV Medicine, Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • When to start presented by Dr Julian Elliott, Head of Clinical Research, The Alfred Hospital Infectious Diseases Unit, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  • What to start? HIV integrase inhibitors in initial therapy Associate Professor Mark Boyd, Senior NHMRC Research Fellow, The Kirby Institute; Consultant HIV Physician, The Albion Centre and Holdsworth House; President, ASHM; Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • What to Start: A broader look from the Australian perspective Dr James McMahon, Infectious diseases physician & HIV researcher, The Alfred hospital & Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  • Panel Discussion with Professor Jennifer Hoy, Dr Julian Elliott, Dr Mark Boyd, Dr James McMahon, Dr Mark Bloch, and Neil McKellar-Stewart

Undiagnosed HIV among Australian gay and bisexual men: Results from the COUNT study chaired by John de Wit and Margaret Hellard

  • The prevalence and correlates of undiagnosed HIV among Australian gay and bisexual men presented by Martin Holt
  • A tale of two studies – assessing results from two studies of undiagnosed HIV among gay and bisexual men in Melbourne in 2008 and 2014 presented by Jason Asselin
  • Comparing behavioural and demographic characteristics of gay and bisexual men in Australia with undiagnosed HIV infection with those recently diagnosed presented by Ian Down
  • Estimated contribution of undi- agnosed HIV infections among gay and bisexual men to new HIV infections in Australia presented by Richard Gray
  • HIV Oral Fluid Con␣rmatory Testing Algorithm, Assay Development, Validation and Epidemiological Applications presented by Kim Wilson

Issues in HIV Management chaired by Heather McNamee and Trent Yarwood

  • Clinic Network Collaboration and Patient Tracing To Maximize Retention in HIV Care presented by James McMahon
  • Patient Retention in HIV Medical Care in a Primary Care Practice in Sydney, Australia presented by Mark Bloch
  • Factors associated with adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV- infected Australian adults: The PAART study presented by Krista Siefried
  • Eects of HIV Treatment Interruption in the Asia-Pacific Region – results from TAHOD presented by Awachana Jiamsakul
  • Primary results of the Positive Outlook study: A randomised controlled trial of online self- management for gay men with HIV presented by Tanya Millard
  • Self-Management for People Living with HIV: A Pilot of the Flinders ProgramTM in HIV Clinical Services presented by Sarah Smith

Drug and Alcohol chaired by Karen Price and Jason Ferris

  • Narcotics Are Cheaper Than Food in Pakistan: Our PWIDs Are Dying From AIDS presented by Zeeshan Ayyaz
  • Drug-related Hospital Admissions in HIV-infected and Uninfected Gay and Bisexual Men presented by Cecilia Moore
  • The Highs and Lows of Methamphetamine use among Gay and Bisexual Men presented by Mo Hammoud
  • Gay and Bisexual Men Alternate Ways of Obtaining Erectile Dysfunction Medication and their Reasons for Use presented by Mo Hammoud
  • Crystal Methamphetamine Use Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Australia: Patterns of Use and Harm Reduction Responses presented by Toby Lea
  • Treatment outcomes from AC- ON’s Substance Support Service: Working with HIV positive and at risk clients presented by Toby Lea

Sex, Identity and Resistance chaired by Tony Maynard

Cure/Latency/CNS chaired by Melissa Churchill and Lachlan Gray

Antiretroviral Therapy chaired by James McMahon and David Baker

Evaluating Rapid HIV Testing chaired by Levinia Crooks and Joe Debbatista


Gorithie and NancyResearchers continued to present posters throughout the conference. Nancy Aloitch and Gorithie Tai from Papua New Guinea presented their research on HIV. Nancy presented a poster called “SUSTAINING HIV TESTING AND TREATMENT PROGRAMMES IN RURAL, REMOTE AND VOLATILE ENVIRONMENTS – LESSONS LEARNT FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA“. There is a big call for more anthropologists to work in PNG on infectious diseases such as STI, HIV and TB. The problem is huge and more anthropologists need to come to the table. New initiatives to provide research training and support are an excellent opportunity for capacity building and research development. Abstracts for all the posters are available online.

Please also visit summaries of the World STI & HIV Congress Day 1Day 2Day 3 and Day 4.

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