Our third HIV Women’s Seminar was held on the 24th of July 2015 at the Maritime Room in Auckland's Viaduct district. Over a 100 people attended representing a wide range of professions.
The Seminar was opened by Dr Mark Thomas who gave an overview of HIV, namely what HIV is, where it came from, how the body responds to HIV, how HIV infection is diagnosed, and how doctors interpret CD4 count and HIV viral load laboratory results.
Read his presentation here
Our Key Note Speaker was Dr Joan Ingram, an infectious diseases specialist at Auckland Hospital. Joan attended the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) and gave an overview of the most important research papers presented at CROI 2015. A number of sessions at CROI 2015 focussed on PREP and Joan reported on them as well as a diverse range of other topics.
Read her pressentation here
Picture above: Dr Joan Ingram
Mel is a mother of two and also HIV positive. She has experienced two very different births - one empowering with many choices, and one very opposite. Mel shared her personal story relating to the pregnancy of her second child and the natural birth she had in the comfort of her own home. Mel also shared her experiences of providing alternative feeding options to her daughter other than the recommended formula and chose donated breastmilk as her daughter’s primary source of food.
Julia was Mel’s midwife and she shared her experience of a home birth delivery with a mother living with HIV.
The theme for the afternoon was around HIV testing which was launched by a very powerful presentation from Carolyn Booker, who was supported by her two daughters. Carolyn shared their family’s very personal experience of the effects of a late HIV diagnosed in their family.
Victoria is a counsellor who is involved in HIV testing and counselling at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation in Christchurch. She explained the protocols and procedures around rapid HIV testing and the importance of pre and post-test counselling.
Read her presentation here
In her second presentation of the day Joan talked about the significance of HIV medications. She gave an overview of how HIV medications have transformed HIV infection from the deadly disease it was 30 years ago to a chronic manageable condition. Medications dramatically reduce the replication of the virus and by doing so reduce complications such as infections, cancers, heart disease, neurological problems and deaths. They also reduce transmission from mothers to infants and sexual transmission.
Read her presentation here
The afternoon concluded with a discussion and a Question & Answer session. On the panel was Carolyn Booker, Victoria Riddiford and Mark Thomas. The main focus of this session was around the significance of testing, how, why and who should test, and the role of HIV medication for people living with HIV in this day and age.