Two Australian organisations share in more than $1 million in funding to support local projects aimed

Gilead Sciences

Melbourne, Australia [August 29, 2022] – Gilead Sciences Australia today proudly announced two Australian organisations, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), have been awarded a combined AUD $1.04 million to support their respective local efforts in ending the HIV epidemic. The funds provided to QUT and NAPWHA are the highest ever combined amount awarded to Australian applicants through a Gilead grant.

The award is part of Gilead’s global Zeroing In: Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) grant which builds on the company’s efforts to help end the HIV epidemic for everyone, everywhere. It was introduced to support organisations around the world whose programs align with established international and country specific EHE goals.

According to Jaime McCoy, General Manager Gilead Australia and New Zealand: “Huge strides have been made towards ending the HIV epidemic in Australia thanks to the combined efforts of all those working in the HIV community, however we know there is more to be done to bring new infections to zero and support the life-long health of the estimated 29,000 people living with HIV1 in Australia today.”

“Limited awareness and health literacy has remained a challenge in linking people to timely diagnosis and care, especially in the most marginalised communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only impeded progress in these communities, reducing HIV testing and amplifying health inequities. We also know even those who are receiving medical care for HIV still may face challenges such as stigma, discrimination and mental health issues,” continued Ms McCoy.

QUT was awarded $366,924 for its focus on priority migrant populations. It identified a critical need for co-designed resources to build health literacy, challenge stigma and increase self-efficacy in accessing HIV information services among these groups. The proposed project combines robust HIV resources together with a bicultural health worker community outreach service to increase HIV health literacy at the individual, interpersonal, organisational and community levels. It is making a unique and important contribution to ending HIV in Australia.

Dr Jo Durham, researcher at the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Australia (AusHSI), QUT, and lead applicant on the project said: “One population identified as a priority in the Eighth National HIV Strategy is culturally and linguistically diverse migrants. If we are to meet the goals set out in the Strategy and are truly committed to ending the HIV epidemic in Australia, then we must prioritise reaching these groups. This funding will enable us to employ peer researchers – that is people with lived experience, to build a contemporary, co-designed approach to improving health literacy in priority migrant populations.”

Australia’s peak organisation representing people living with HIV, NAPWHA, was awarded $672,110 for its project focusing on increasing timely HIV diagnosis, reducing undiagnosed prevalence, and reducing new infections through self-testing. This is a key priority within the Eighth National HIV Strategy. Funding for this project will enable individuals to register online to receive one year’s supply of HIV home tests delivered to their home at no cost. This will be supplemented with rapid connection to HIV peer navigation services and clinical appointments for confirmatory testing, facilitated through workplace development training and agreements with public clinics.

NAPWHA’s successful application was submitted on behalf of 14 state and territory community groups and clinical and academic partners to ensure the successful implementation and delivery of the project nationally, with Queensland Positive People working alongside NAPWHA to manage the project.

Mr Aaron Cogle, Executive Director from NAPWHA said: “Thanks to significant advocacy from our HIV sector over the last few years, we now have access to HIV self-testing in Australia that will address some of the barriers we are seeing to people accessing regular HIV testing, such as stigma and discrimination. Through the Zeroing In Grant, we have established a subscription based, self-testing service so individuals and populations at risk of HIV, who may be testing infrequently or not at all, receive free tests at home. This allows them to test in the privacy of their own home but with the wrap around support and training around this project, ensure they are connected to their local peer-to-peer and clinical services, should they test positive.

“Through this project, we are targeting the estimated 2,610 people unaware they are living with HIV1, helping connect them to treatment and care and work towards achieving our target of zero new transmissions in Australia by 2025,” concluded Mr Cogle.

Throughout its history, Gilead has worked together with partners and the community to address critical public health challenges and healthcare disparities, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community and for those impacted by HIV. In the recently released report from Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA), Gilead became the top overall philanthropic funder of HIV worldwide, overtaking The Gates Foundation, with over USD $270 million provided by Gilead in 2020 to HIV organisations.

“Both QUT and NAPWHA put forward leading innovative solutions to address these issues and make a real difference for under-resourced communities and we are delighted that Gilead is able to put our support behind their work through the Zeroing In grant,” concludes Ms McCoy.

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