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Support if you live in Melbourne and restricted areas
It’s been an up-and-down journey for Victoria as we learn to coexist with the present reality of coronavirus. In particular, we want to send a message to all our members who live in the areas affected by the reintroduction of restrictions. We’re as disappointed as you are. If you’re feeling affected by this, and just want a friendly ear, some information about services or support, or think we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact our peer support team via our website, by email, or by phone.
Unfortunately, because we have an obligation to support our community’s wellbeing and look after our staff and members, we can’t at the moment provide face-to-face peer support or put on events or social activities, except online. This applies across the board, whether you live in a currently restricted area or not.
We’re keen to see our members in person as soon as we can, but that time is not yet.
However, we will continue to share info about new opportunities to meet and chat online.
For women living in areas directly affected by restrictions, we have a couple of messages:
- We can assist you with your support needs, be that someone to talk to, support to get you through if you’ve been financially affected by these changes, or if you’re wondering how to access other services, so give us a call.
- The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is our principal funder, and we acknowledge their effort and ongoing support of women with HIV during this difficult time: they have been doing a great job under tremendous pressure to support our community, and our community organisations. They are issuing lots of helpful advice for people who have questions about the new restrictions that apply, so please check in via their website.
- Testing is super important to identify people who may have coronavirus without realising. You may be door-knocked and asked to consider a test if you live in certain areas: we encourage you to consider doing this, to protect your health and potentially the health of others. If you have symptoms, even mild symptoms, such as a cough, a fever, a sore throat, cold-like symptoms, or importantly, a change in your sense of smell or taste, don’t panic, but do talk to your doctor or call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or consult the DHHS info about where to get testing: it’s widely available, free and results generally come back within a few days.
Remember, there’s no evidence that people living with HIV are at increased risk of acquiring coronavirus, and if you have well-controlled HIV, there’s no evidence that you will have a worse health outcome from coronavirus if you are diagnosed with it. If you want to know how to maximise your wellbeing and health, you can call and talk to your doctor. Supply of HIV medicines is not a concern, and essential services such as food stores and pharmacies continue to be available though you’ll be reminded to observe appropriate distance from others and may be asked to utilise hygiene measures like hand sanitation.
Continue to wash your hands, practice cough etiquette and follow all prevention advice. Though the government is not recommending or requiring face masks, if you personally feel more comfortable with this additional precaution when shopping or if you need to use public transport, by all means it can’t hurt to do so, and most pharmacies have a supply, and can advise you on suitable ones to use.
We do know that many people are missing catching up with friends or families, and with colleagues, if you work from home. At the moment, across Victoria, we all have to keep working from home if we can, but we realise that can feel isolating. You can call us if you need someone to talk to at any point. If you live in Melbourne or a restricted area, you must have have only essential care visits from one other person from outside your household. We recommend you read all the advice and information issued carefully.
We support all women with HIV during this unsettling and for some, quite stressful time. So if you think we can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.