It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since the HIV sector came together for the first time post-COVID-19 on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for the 2022 ASHM Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences!

So much has happened in the meantime — not least of which was the harm reduction sector also coming together for the first time in Melbourne for the Harm Reduction International Conference (HR23) in April.

From my perspective, however, the biggest news is that Stage 3 of the W3 Project has run its course and we are all heading off on new adventures. I am sure, though, that these adventures will continue to align and cross paths into the future.

So, I hope you enjoy this final blog post from Stage 3 of the W3 Project!

27th Harm Reduction International Conference (HR23), April 16–19

What an absolute triumph! W3 Project’s partner, Harm Reduction Victoria, and their partners did an incredible job pulling together this conference — which was originally to be held in 2020. The vibe was wonderful, as it is always bound to be when such a passionate group of people come together to learn from each other.

The W3 Project delivered a presentation about our preliminary findings. It was truly humbling to be presenting alongside incredible peer workers from Myanmar, Canada, and Australia.

We also delivered a workshop that guided participants through some activities to get them thinking about how to use the W3 Framework to understand and explain the full system-level impact of their work. Peer workers from several different sectors around Australia as well as participants from England joined the session, which made for some really interesting discussions.

12th IAS Conference on HIV Science, July 23–26

Congratulations must also to W3 Project partner Queensland Positive People for their role in supporting the 12th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science in Brisbane.

Graham was invited to speak about the system-level impacts of peer-led work in the HIV and hepatitis C response at one of the ‘satellite conferences’: the International HIV Coinfection + Viral Hepatitis Elimination Conference. His presentation provided an overview of our findings, and of the barriers and enablers that peer-led organisations face in trying to demonstrate their system-level impact and value.

New paper about the importance of peer-led PLHIV support

‘Congratulations!!’ to Living Positive Victoria’s Tim Krulic, who has published another paper from his PhD research. This new paper in ‘Frontiers in Public Health’ is about the implementation of Living Positive Victoria’s peer navigator program. The paper outlines the significant impact that peer support has on the quality of life for people living with HIV.

W3 Project Stage 3: the results are in

After what somehow feels like just a few months since we started, Stage 3 of the W3 Project is drawing to a close. (At this point, does anyone else — especially if you live in Victoria — feel like 2020 and 2021 were just a weird dream that kind of didn’t happen..?)

Over the course of the project, we pulled together and analysed more than 1,100 pieces of evidence. These included data generated and provided by our partner organisations, the results of extensive desktop research, and more than 30 hours of conversations with our partners. We have a shiny new report about what we found during the project. (If you’d just like to check out a summary of our work and findings, we’ve got you covered. Or if you’d like to deep dive into the background evidence, we’ve got that too.).

Watch this proverbial space for further publications and potential future research ideas. For now, though…

That’s a wrap

My current best piece of advice to anyone who will listen is: ‘Try not to start a health-related research project in partnership with community health organisations ten weeks before a pandemic.’ To say it has been challenging is an understatement.

To everyone — most especially and specifically the peer organisation staff — who have been involved and supported us along this journey, a sincere and heart-felt thank you. Thank you for your shared commitment to this work. Thank you for your patience and support as we navigated these weird few past years together. I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for you all and for all that you do.

Farewell for now

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