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HIV research highlights need to support travelling communities

Media release

Curtin University, in partnership with La Trobe University, has released new research which calls for better support for mobile and migrant groups in responding to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Dr Roanna Lobo, from Curtin’s School of Public Health, said in the last five to ten years there has been an increase in HIV diagnoses amongst those travelling to and from regions of high HIV prevalence around Australia.

“This trend is being seen globally. The epidemic is growing and it is not going away, and it is a particular issue for Western Australia,” Dr Lobo said.

The HIV and Mobility inAustralia: Road Map for Action report found mobility and migration may increase existing vulnerability to HIV due to factors such as lack of social support, difficulty accessing services, different experiences when travelling, and / or living in under-resourced areas.

The report highlights the differences in HIV diagnoses across Australia, along with people’s different travelling patterns and the need for more targeted responses to address these variations. It also clearly identified the critical role of timely research and surveillance to inform effective policy and programs for prevention, treatment and care.

We now need to think differently, as the ‘one-size fits all’ approach that we have often used in the past with migrant and transient groups around these issues, isn’t going to work in the future.

“We need to adapt our approach and ensure it both respects human rights and responds to mobile lifestyles.

“This report fills an important gap as it outlines how a partnership between migrant and mobile populations, HIV community organisations, government and research teams can work together to prevent HIV and support those affected,” Dr Lobo said.

HIV and Mobility: Road Map for Action was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and will be launched in Perth on Wednesday 3 December at the Department of Health’s STI and Blood-Borne Virus Quarterly Forum.

The report can be accessed online at http://siren.org.au/hivandmobility.