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Using tech to empower PLHIV

After eight years commentating from the sidelines, the opportunity to attend the 26th Australasian conference for HIV and AIDS (ASHM) being held in Adelaide, was an exciting one for me. I was fortunate enough to experience the International AIDS Society’s conference AIDS 2014 when it came to Melbourne; I knew ASHM would be very different.

Comparing the world’s largest health conference to Australia’s domestic equivalent is like comparing Disneyland to Luna Park – both fun but worlds apart. I really wanted to see what happens when our HIV sector involving government, science, medicine and community comes together and to what degree they work together.

I was invited to ASHM as a journalist and to file reports. What you are reading is one example, but there were a couple of other reasons for me being there. I’d been asked to trial the world’s first smart-phone app — MyLife+ — designed for people living with HIV to manage their health and wellbeing; ASHM was the official launch for the app.  

The conference also enabled me to launch my new podcast series, something I had been working on for over six months with the Victorian AIDS Council. insideHIV.net is Australia’s — if not the world’s — first podcast series for and by HIV-positive people, providing a platform for encouraging resilience and empowering individuals to think well, be well and live well.

Unbeknown to me, NAPWHA had been working on a new campaign to help people living with HIV to live a better life.  An accompanying website — goodqualityoflife.com.au — is a new platform where people with HIV share great moments as well as the things they do to maintain a good quality of life, including the importance of being on the right HIV treatment. These three initiatives were only made possible thanks to ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Community Grants. 

As the ASHM launch-fest got underway, it was standing room only. Up first was NAPWHA with their campaign reveal, followed by ViiV and the MyLife+ app. Before long I was called to the lectern. I always begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and the past and present elders of our HIV community who have fought so long and so hard to get us to where we are today. In the front row was one such elder, David Menadue — a tireless advocate for people living with HIV.

With insideHIV.net now officially launched, I realised I had been a part of something quite momentous.  My little podcast series was part of something much bigger. Technology was being utilised to help positive people live well and live better. These were initiatives enabling positive people to heard, new voices sharing their stories of resilience to empower others and I was proud to be a part of it.

Dean Beck attended ASHM on the invitation of NAPWHA. Follow him on Twitter @DeanBeckOnAir

 

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