Panel confirms ‘quality of life’ as key focus for Australians living with HIV

Quality of life should be a key measure in determining the success of treatment for people with HIV, according to participants in an expert panel discussion.

The Livestream panel (Quality of life for People Living with HIV– Rediscovering what matters) was convened by ViiV Healthcare Australia and the National Association for People with HIV in Australia (NAPWHA) to mark World AIDS Day.

According to Dr Fraser Drummond, Medical Director at ViiV Healthcare Australia, “Quality of Life” is the key ‘fourth measure’ that often gets missed because of a focus on the three global clinical targets – diagnosis percentage, rates of treatment and viral suppression.

“Today’s discussion was an important contribution to efforts from a wide range of stakeholders to refocus attention on to quality of life for people with HIV,” said Dr Drummond.

Brent Allan, Senior Advisor for the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, agrees that care for people living with HIV should no longer be limited to a focus on viral suppression but should be broadened to consider how care can help people thrive and improve their quality of life.

“We know that around one third of people in Australia with HIV report suboptimal mental health1 and a significant proportion still identify gaps in their HIV management. So it’s about broadening our focus to consider a more holistic approach that takes account of the stigma and fear associated with the condition,” said Allan.

According to Professor Jennifer Hoy, Director of HIV Medicine at The Alfred, research shows that gay and bisexual men with HIV have a higher risk of co-morbidities like diabetes2.

“For most people with HIV their antiviral treatment progresses very well. But it’s the accompanying comorbid conditions like diabetes and other issues that are affecting their quality of life. We need to focus more on a broader sense of ‘care’ for people who are diagnosed with HIV,” said Professor Hoy.

Sarah Feagan, Vice President, National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), says quality of life continues to be a key issue for people with HIV.

“We’re making great progress as far as bio medical interventions and the clear understanding that Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U), but we still have a long way to go in reducing stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV. Stigma and discrimination are the greatest barriers to quality of life for people living with HIV in Australia.”

Graeme Watson

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