A 21-page guidance document detailing the quality improvement activities of the Australian Health Protection and Research Agency (AHPRA) has been launched to help health systems manage risk perceptions on both HIV and HPV.

The guidance, published today in simulation focus by The Australian and New Zealand Health Research Institute (ANZHRI) and New Zealand Health Integration Units (NHI), aims to reduce barrier to sharing of HIV and HPV information.

The guidance emphasises doctors and patients’ understanding of all two key sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) – HIV and HPV. It outlines the steps the health provider and clinician can take to identify people who are at risk of infection, and how to communicate when changing routine care.

Some clinicians may also need training to share information on measuring HIV and HPV, the virus infections that can cause cervical dysplasia and genital warts.

Overall, the guidance includes information on sharing infection risk information with those who are HIV positive, and on well-known risk factors associated with sexual risk taking, such as sex aids, panty liners, pillows intended for oral use, or being secreted in your genital bed.

While the guidance will need to be reviewed by the Health Ministry every 4 ½ years, the purpose of the review is to help health system leaders and practitioners to become expert in communicating risk-related information to patients, colleagues and community.

“Currently, health systems are essentially using qualitative methods to show the patient how to correctly ask about things, and to measure whether there is danger of infection in the setting of care,” said the guidance, which will also provide health-care providers with detailed instructions on how to keep diaries and a safe clean bill of health to demonstrate risk level.

The guidance was developed after the ANZHRI recruited a decade-long-old HIV/AIDS researcher to co-write the paper. Dr. Melody Dickenson was recruited from Church Channel, the nation’s largest network of public HIV/AIDS research professionals, which is run by the University of Victoria.

“Our homework has been to groom folks who have experience running rigorous quality improvement processes,” said Dr. Dickenson.

An expert on percutaneous and anal cancer, Dr. Dickenson has an expertise in the management of patients who are already at high risk of HIV and HPV infection, and people who have sex with men.

“Using all the information we can to make sure that people who write, talk and talk are aware of the differences,” said Dr. Dickenson.

“Professionally, ‘guidelines are very much [worked] out in practice,’ so we have a significant window of time to make them operational.”