HIV Treatment is different now: “Talking about Treatment” – A new film campaign from QPP

HIV Treatment is different now: “Talking about Treatment” – A new film campaign from QPP

HIV Australia | Vol. 13 No. 3 | December 2015

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this article of HIV Australia contains images, voices or names of people who have passed away.

By Finn O’Keefe

Queensland Positive People (QPP) has launched a new series of short films featuring five diverse people living with HIV (PLHIV) discussing HIV treatment and the ways that HIV treatment has changed.

Starting treatment can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. The stories highlighted in the Talking About Treatment campaign are designed to help other people to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.

The participants include a mother of five, an Aboriginal man, an older man, and young gay men. These five people each share personal insights about their journeys with HIV, and the experience of commencing and managing antiretroviral treatment.

Simon O’Connor, QPP Executive Officer, explains that although early forms of HIV medication were not well tolerated and had many side effects, the experience of taking HIV treatment today is dramatically different.

‘For many PLHIV, the side effects were significant and debilitating. Many PLHIV had a heavy “pill burden”, meaning that they were required to take handfuls of pills every day.

‘The Talking About Treatment campaign aims to raise awareness about how HIV treatment has changed.

‘Treatment is different now,’ Simon explains. ‘For many people it’s only a single pill a day that allows PLHIV to live a healthier and more normal lifespan.

‘We are keen for newly diagnosed PLHIV to hear about and consider the personal benefits in commencing and adhering to HIV treatment. Our aim is to increase awareness of just how far treatment has advanced,’ says Simon.

Neville’s story

One of the participants in the campaign is Neville Fazulla, a man of Arrernte and Afghani decent who has been living with HIV for over 20 years.

Neville says he is proud of his identity as an Aboriginal man and has never seen any shame in being HIV-positive, due to the strong support he received from his family and friends.

In his video, Neville talks about his decision to commence treatment.

‘There were new treatments coming through. I wanted to see if they worked – and they did. They got my viral load down, they got my CD4 cell count up, and I was a low risk,’ explains Neville.

Neville describes in detail his HIV treatment journey, and the process of working with his doctor and other health specialists over the years to create and manage a treatment plan that addressed his changing health needs.

‘I asked if I could have a multi-disciplinary team that looked at all the chronic conditions I had, and the impact of those drugs that I’m taking. The doctors went away and came back with a process and decision and I was agreeable with it.’

Neville has recently celebrated his 50th birthday and says he looks forward to the future. ‘I want to be around for a while!’ Neville says.


See more Talking About Treatment videos:

QPP encourages all PLHIV to become involved by sharing their own unique story through the website’s online submission form to assist others seeking support on their individual journeys.