In a first of its kind, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic will launch a toolkit to support an estimated one in five people with HIV who may be affected by treatable conditions of cognitive impairment or dementia at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne on Thursday 24 July.
The education toolkit developed by Alzheimer’s Australia Vic in collaboration with the Burnet Institute and Living Positive Victoria, will contain resources for community care workers on how best to support people living with HIV who are experiencing medical conditions known as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND).
Early diagnosis of HAND and its treatment can lead to people regaining daily cognitive abilities affected by the condition, which may include memory, language, attention, planning and judgement.
Associate Professor Edwina Wright, clinical researcher at the Burnet Institute said, "The aim of the HAND toolkit is to make a difference to the lives of people living with HIV and HAND along with their partners, families and friends.
"The toolkit contains a range of resources that are aimed at increasing an understanding of the cognitive conditions that may affect a person living with HAND and how these conditions impact on a person’s ability to care for themselves.
"Ultimately, the toolkit will enable and support workers in achieving better health outcomes for people who are affected by HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders," Professor Wright said.
The HAND toolkit is the first in a series of toolkits known as Dementia and Chronic Conditions Series, funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments under the Home & Community Care (HACC) program.
Dr David Sykes, General Manager Learning and Development at Alzheimer’s Australia Vic said acknowledgement, awareness and understanding of HAND is critical in reducing stigma associated with HIV and dementia within the community.
"People diagnosed with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders are at risk of being exposed to stigma in many areas of their life, which often prevents them from reporting their concerns or accessing support services, Dr Sykes said.
Signs of HAND may include forgetfulness, lower productivity at work, difficulty with finances or organising meals, as well as reduced driving ability.
"It’s important to acknowledge that an early diagnosis of HAND and its treatment can lead to regaining abilities affected by the condition. Therefore an awareness and understanding of the signs and symptoms of HAND is vital in helping someone to follow up with any concerns," Dr Sykes said.
The HAND toolkit contains information on understanding HAND, how to support someone who is living with HIV and HAND, a case study, self-test questions, and sources of further information.
The HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) toolkit will be launched on Thursday 24 July at 1pm within the Global Village of the 20th International AIDS2014 Conference held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
For more information on the 20th International AIDS2014 Conference, visit www.aids2014.org