It seems another year has bitten the dust, and what a year it was! Let’s start with the low points:
⦁ The same sex marriage survey and its accompanying toxic public “debate” cast a pall over the latter half of the year, inciting public transphobia and homophobia. Many members of our community have been deeply affected by this debate, and quite a few have lost family and friends in the process.
⦁ Numbers of indigenous Australians with HIV and syphilis continued to rise.
⦁ Medical marijuana hit the headlines when it was announced that doctors would be able to prescribe it – sadly there are no locally approved products, no practical prescribing guidelines, very limited types of patients who are eligible, and a mountain of bureaucratic paperwork and applications required before a script can be written, making it too difficult for doctors to actually recommend it.
And the highs:
⦁ Fantastic news that we can now unequivocally say that U=U – if you are HIV+ and undetectable you cannot transmit the virus.
⦁ HIV transmission rates falling around Australia (except for indigenous communities).
⦁ New easy to take Hepatitis C treatments with virtually no side effects have led to thousands of people being cured.
⦁ QPrEP took off and has added another 1000 places – yes, we are still enrolling people for this!
⦁ Marriage equality was finally enshrined in legislation, and bakers will have to bake our cakes.
⦁ The Family Court of Australia ruled that young trans people no longer have to apply to the court in order to start hormones, removing a huge obstacle.
And finally my crystal ball predictions for the year ahead:
⦁ Transphobia is taking centre stage now that the marriage equality dust has settled, with the religious fundamentalists setting their sights on trans youth – watch this space and prepare to go in to bat for them.
⦁ Research on PrEP for syphilis and other STIs may result in a change in medical practice.
⦁ Multi-drug resistant (untreatable) gonorrhoea – it’s overseas, will it finally hit our shores, and will the advent of PrEP mean it spreads like wildfire?
⦁ E-cigarettes – will the federal government finally change its tune and legalize this safe alternative to smoking?
⦁ Another bigger vaping trial for HIV+ people will be enrolling in the first half of the year – stay tuned for details!
Merry Christmas to all my readers and best wishes for the New Year. Enjoy the festive season, play safely, drink in moderation and don’t drink and drive. Hopefully you won’t need a doctor over the break but if you do you know where to find me!
Dr Fiona Bisshop (pictured above, third from right) specialises in LGBTI health and works at Holdsworth House Medical Brisbane. To make an appointment, call (07) 3894 0794 or visit the website here.