In January 2021, the Australian Government announced that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout would commence by the end of February 2021 (pending TGA approval and quality assurance processes etc), for groups at highest risk of acquiring COVID-19 and people at risk of mortality or hospitalisation who contract COVID-19. While a welcome announcement, the details of the rollout regarding people living with HIV remains unclear.
The vaccination schedule announced by the Australian government on Thursday 7 January suggests that people living with HIV or those with a chronic health condition may not be included in Phase 1 of the roll-out strategy, unless they are front-line healthcare, aged care/disability or critical and high risk workers, aged over 70 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55 years or younger adults with an underlying medical condition.
Positive Life has formulated a planned body of work in response to support all people living with HIV across NSW to ensure communications and messaging with our community living with and affected by HIV in NSW is targeted, nuanced and practical. To this end, we will be working with the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce, NAPWHA and AFAO to gain clear and consistent advice about the rollout and logistics as well as synthesise the available research on COVID-19 and HIV.
Below we offer a briefing of the work we will do over the coming months. It includes but is not limited to the following:
In the Know (Research and Treatments Information Session)
We held an event on Tuesday 9 February as part of our regular ‘In The Know’ Research and Treatments information sessions, with three guest speakers presenting on the COVID-19 vaccine and what it means for our community members living with HIV. They were:
Associate Professor Edwina Wright, Chair of the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce who discussed the COVID Vaccine Rollout/Schedule and Logistics.
Regular blog posts which address topics which require more detail. For example, “What is the COVID vaccine and is it safe?” or “When and how can I get the vaccine?” Positive Life will also update the previously released position statement on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Monthly distribution of the COVID-19 ToolKit newsletter to our members, subscribers and HIV-sector partners and regularly updated on our website.
Positive Life Treatments Officer
The Treatments Officer will continue to offer our membership up-to-date, relevant information, to ensure you are resourced appropriately when questioned by others living with or affected by HIV across NSW about the COVID-19 vaccine and the rollout.
Peer connection and groups
Throughout the first half of 2021, all Positive Life’s peer connection and support groups will focus on the COVID-19 vaccine (and the social factors associated with social distancing due to COVID-19). These will include community language translations where feasible.
If you want to talk about your concerns regarding coronavirus as a person living with HIV, please contact Positive Life NSW and talk to a Treatments or Peer Support Officer, on (02) 9206-2177 or 1800 245 677 (freecall) or email email@example.com
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