VHHITAL’s Professor Benjamin Cowie considered for World Health Organization appointment

Professor Benjamin Cowie.
  30 August 2021  NWMPHN   

Professor Benjamin Cowie. Image: Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Congratulations to Professor Benjamin Cowie, who is being considered for appointment to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new Global Validation Advisory Committee on the validation of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B virus.

Professor Cowie is an infectious diseases physician at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, a medical epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute, and a key member of the Victorian HIV and Hepatitis Integrated Training And Learning (VHHITAL) program.

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network and VHHITAL welcome this consideration of Professor Cowie and wish him well.

VHHITAL’s local response to HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B

While WHO has been working on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis for years, hepatitis B virus (HBV) has now been included in a ‘triple elimination’ approach. This is a timely reminder that HBV needs the same close attention locally.

Victoria has well developed wrap around supports for any pregnant woman living with HIV. Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has issued an updated health alert to increase testing of pregnant women for syphilis after congenital cases re-emerged. Professor Cowie’s newest appointment highlights the key role primary health care practitioners also play in the management of hepatitis.

Victoria’s unique approach to STI, HIV and hepatitis B and C workforce development is delivered through the VHHITAL consortium, which includes the Doherty Institute. Professor Cowie is an active contributor to the VHHITAL Governance Group. He also delivers many training sessions and facilitates quarterly community of practice and case study review sessions for HBV s100 prescribers.

Upcoming VHHITAL training opportunities

VHHITAL’s consortium approach makes world leading expertise, including s100 prescriber training for HIV and HBV, freely available to Victorian primary health care practitioners.

HIV s100 prescriber training

The last VHHITAL HIV s100 prescriber course for 2021 will be held on over 4 weeks from 27 September to 24 October 2021. Register now.


VHHITAL will host an advanced syphilis webinar on Thursday, 16 September 2021. Register now.

Hepatitis essentials

VHHITAL regularly offers a hepatitis essentials course for primary health care practitioners, which covers hepatitis B and C. The next opportunities to participate in this training are:

  • Viral hepatitis essentials for primary care – Tuesday, 14 September 2021. Register now.
  • Viral hepatitis essentials for primary care – Tuesday, 12 October 2021. Register now.

HBV s100 prescriber training

VHHITAL also delivers HBV s100 prescriber training and support for practitioners to remain accredited. Better access to HBV care is needed throughout Victoria, but particularly in regional and remote areas of the state. GPs and nurse practitioners are encouraged to register their interest for the last prescriber course for 2021, to be held in the final quarter of this year. Dates will be finalised soon – please contact vhhital@nwmphn.org.au to register your interest.

Once accredited, practitioners can participate in quarterly community of practice sessions with Professor Cowie to foster a collegiate approach, discuss challenging cases and continuously improve practice.