Getting Support for HIV
Meeting other people living with HIV who understand what you are going through can be a great way of gaining reassurance and finding answers to your questions. Hearing other’s experiences around an HIV diagnosis and what helped them get through this period can offer great insight to guide you on your own path.
Confidential support from a professional can also be invaluable and is provided in different ways. Support can come from either a counsellor or another guy living with HIV (a peer) who is trained in this area. Others might choose to see both a counsellor and a peer. These services are free, and it is up to you on what you think might work best.
Some of these services are offered in Sydney while ACON also has regional offices that can provide services and support across NSW. Additionally, both counselling and peer sessions are available through confidential video sessions state-wide.
a[STARTx] One on One Peer Support
ACON and Positive Life NSW offer support from peers who are living with HIV. Peers leverage their lived experience of HIV while providing support such as health referrals, resilience building strategies, linkage to community and more. Peers provide support to those that may want to talk to someone who understands, but who may not necessarily want to speak to a counsellor. All of this is completely confidential.
a[STARTx] weekend workshop
a[STARTx] is peer-led and presented, which means it is run by other gay and bi men living with HIV. The aim is to empower you with the confidence and the skills to manage HIV by drawing on your own experience and others’ in the workshop. Topics covered across the weekend include HIV treatment, HIV disclosure, building resilience, pleasure and risk, and more.
a[STARTx] provides practical advice, information and a peer perspective on a wide range of issues that may confront you after diagnosis. There’s also time set aside for sharing personal experiences, problems and possible solutions with the support and encouragement of other men who, like you, are living with HIV.
Attending the a[STARTx] workshop is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had reservations about attending it but would now recommend HIV positive guys to just take the plunge. The weekend was jammed packed with information and made me less lonely walking down this path.
Tel: (02) 9206 2000
ACON provides free counselling support and information for people recently diagnosed with HIV and those affected by a diagnosis, such as partners, family or friends. Counselling offers a safe place to discuss the needs and feelings associated with a recent diagnosis and can provide links to other services. Follow-up is provided within one working day and can be offered through face-to-face contact or by phone.
For more information or if you’d like to book a counselling session, visit ‘HIV Counselling’ on the ACON website here. A counselling staff member will contact you within two business days. In cases with more urgent needs please call 9206 2000.
ACON’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Program (AOD)
Provides support services and health promotion programs to people who use illicit (illegal) and licit (legal) drugs.
Substance Support Service
ACON’s Substance Support service provides free, short-term face-to-face, phone or Skype counselling of up to 12 sessions with the ability to re-enter as required. Counsellors assist people to better manage their use, cut down or quit.
ACON also provides counselling for partners, friends and family members affected by a loved one’s AOD use.
Tel: (02) 9206 2000
Other organisations here to support you
Aids Trust Of Australia
The AIDS Trust provides funds for direct financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS through approved community-based organisations in each State and Territory across Australia.
Australian Federation Of Aids Organisations (AFAO)
AFAO is the peak non-government organisation representing Australia’s community-based response to HIV/AIDS. AFAO’s work includes education, policy, advocacy and international projects.
The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM)
Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is a peak organisation of health professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections. ASHM have produced a list of HIV specialists/ S100 prescribers throughout Australia which you can find on their website.
Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF)
HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC)
Multicultural HIV/AIDs And Hepatitis C Service (MHAHS)
The Multicultural HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) works with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in NSW to improve health and wellbeing in relation to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
The service works with more than 20 language groups and implements a range of health promotion, community development and media initiatives, as well as offering individual assistance to people living with HIV through emotional support, liaising with case managers or other health care workers, and discussions about treatment options. Services are also available to partners and family members.
National Association Of People Living With HIV Australia (NAPWHA)
NAPWHA is the national peak organisation representing people living with HIV/AIDS in Australia. Through leadership in advocacy, policy, education and prevention, NAPWHA strives to minimise the adverse personal and social effects of HIV/AIDS.
NSW Sexual Health Infolink
The Sexual Health InfoLink is a NSW Ministry of Health funded information and referral telephone line and website. The Sexual Health InfoLink has been in operation since 1989 and is staffed by specialist sexual health nurses from 9:00am to 5:30pm.
The Sexual Health InfoLink provides sexual health information and referral to the public and provides specialist clinical support and information to nurses, doctors and other professionals who are treating clients with sexual health issues.
Freecall: 1800 451 624
Positive Life NSW
Works to promote a positive image of people living with HIV, including their partners, family and friends. Positive Life NSW provides information and targeted referrals, and advocates to change systems and practices that discriminate against people living with HIV in NSW. They have Treatments Officers living with HIV themselves, who can also provide you with assistance.
Positive Life offers a Work Ready program for people living with HIV who want some support to engage or reconnect in life through study, training, paid (casual, part-time or full-time) or voluntary work. Positive Life has a Housing Support Officer to support people living with HIV access, achieve and maintain stable accommodation, including risk of homelessness.
Positive Life also offers a Peer-led partner notification service (also called contact-tracing) which provides support from someone else who has been through the process of notifying sexual and injecting partners that they have potentially been put at risk of an infection.
Tel: (02) 9206 2177
Sexual Health Centres
Your local Sexual Health Centre (often attached to a public hospital) may also have confidential counsellors available. Search for ‘Sexual Health Clinics’ for your nearest location, or find a test site near you here.
The Institute Of Many (TIM)
The Institute of Many (TIM) is a peer-run group for people living with HIV, who meet online and socially.
The Kirby Institute
The Kirby Institute (formerly the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research) is recognised internationally as a research leader in the field of HIV.