Improving HIV treatment: 7 good reasons to embrace the margins

Stream: Rapid Papers 2
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm


Engaging communities as partners is a critical component of HIV health promotion. Community engagement allows agencies to tap into wider perspectives, sources of information, and develop potential solutions to improve programs and services. It also provides the basis for developing productive and ongoing relationships, improving dialogue and creating a more inclusive process. In practice, however, community engagement with people with low literacy skills and HIV remains limited and under-utilised. Their level of marginalisation is often exacerbated when diagnosed with HIV in conjunction with being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.

In 2015, the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) collaborated with the Positive Life NSW and an external designer to develop a new resource to increase understanding of the benefits of modern HIV treatment and uptake among people from CALD backgrounds with low literacy skills.

This paper will discuss the meaning of low literacy, and its impact on confining communities to the margins of our society, including when accessing HIV treatment and care via our health care system. We will explore the relative meaning of margin in different organisational contexts and discuss how developing resources with low literacy populations has the potential to improve treatment uptake as well as make the health care system more inclusive. The project is a good example of how organisations can tap into the margins of population affected by HIV and expand their organisational knowledge and relevance to new stakeholders.


Sonam Paljor (Presenter), MHAHS (Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service)
Sonam is the Education and Media Officer at the MHAHS. He has worked with displaced stateless communities in India and Nepal and believes our ability to engage communities at the margins can lend us the edge to transform societies into a more democratic community.

Lance Feeney (Presenter), Positive Life NSW
Lance is the Policy Officer at the Positive Life NSW.