MEDIA RELEASE 
27 March 2020 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) has announced the creation of a national taskforce to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, viral hepatitis and other blood-borne viruses (BBVs) in Australia. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, we’re likely to face critical challenges to the health system supporting people living with blood-borne viruses, across treatment, care, support and prevention” said ASHM CEO Alexis Apostolellis. 

“The National Taskforce on BBVs and COVID-19 will lead Australia’s response to these challenges by providing consistent and evidence-based messaging to the BBV health workforce, sector partners and affected communities.” 

ASHM’s taskforce will be led by Australia’s top HIV and blood-borne virus clinicians, epidemiologists and researchers, and will include: 

  • Associate Professor Edwina Wright — Infectious diseases specialist 
  • ​Professor Andrew Grulich — Expert in HIV epidemiology and prevention 
  • Professor Gregory Dore — Infectious diseases specialist in viral hepatitis 
  • Professor Margaret Hellard — Infectious diseases specialist in hepatitis C elimination 
  • Professor Jennifer Hoy — Infectious diseases specialist in HIV treatment and care 
  • Dr Nicholas Medland — Sexual health physician and ASHM Vice-President 
  • ​Associate Professor Darryl O’Donnell — Community liaison 

“New data on the COVID-19 pandemic is emerging constantly, which creates a need for ongoing expert analysis and advice,” said Associate Professor Edwina Wright, who will lead the Taskforce as Chair. 

“This taskforce will provide vital guidance and rapid analysis of that data, to ensure better outcomes for the health of people living with HIV and other blood borne viruses and their healthcare workforce.” 

The National Taskforce on BBVs and COVID-19 will: 

  • Provide expert guidance on the prevention of COVID-19 in healthcare settings 
  • Provide guidance on the delivery and streamlining of clinical care to patients living with BBVs  
  • Provide support and advice to the BBV sector and BBV-affected communities to respond to the challenges of social distancing, quarantine and isolation 
  • Provide ongoing analysis of emerging data on COVID-19 clinical risk factors and how they pertain to people living with HIV and other BBVs 
  • Provide rapid analysis of the results of COVID-19 clinical treatment trials  
  • Provide guidance to the healthcare workforce and people living with BBVs on how to manage their health during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Ensure opportunities for people living with HIV and other BBVs to participate in upcoming treatment and vaccine trials for COVID-19 

ASHM CEO Alexis Apostolellis added: “Even at the best of times, people affected by HIV and viral hepatitis face multiple barriers to accessing basic healthcare. We are expecting Australia’s healthcare system to come under significant strain during this epidemic, and that is precisely the time to support our workforce and their patient populations.” 

ENDS 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

Benjamin Riley 
Media and Public Affairs Manager, ASHM 
0401 267 024 /
 benjamin.riley@ashm.org.au 


For more information, visit our COVID-19 information page.

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