Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases Research Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute

Career Summary: In 2007 James Ward was appointed as the Inaugural Program Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at the Kirby Institute until 2012. At this time he moved to Alice Springs to become Deputy Director of the Baker Institutes’ Aboriginal Health Program.In 2014, he was appointed as the Head of Infectious Diseases Research Program- Aboriginal Health at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, under the leadership of Prof Steve Wesselingh. During the last five years he has progressed research in the areas of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs), vaccine preventable diseases and offender health. James is recognised as a keynote speaker on issues confronting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' health, and in the last five years has delivered at least twenty plenary presentations. At the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne in July 2014, he was one of three Australian plenary speakers.

Since 2010 he has a strong track record in producing research outcomes including 54 publications, alongside many other technical and non-peer reviewed articles. He has led national research projects in Aboriginal health; sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses, including issues surrounding injecting drug use. Most notably the collection and completion of the STRIVE study which has collected clinical attendance, testing, positivity and prevalence data from 67 remote communities provides the most useful data for us to answer the question of how to best address the long standing endemic rates of STIs in remote communities. Similarly he has recently completed data collection of knowledge, risk behaviour and health service access data from almost 3000 Aboriginal people aged 16-29 years which now gives us insight on areas that require strengthening in these domains. His work has influenced policy and practice significantly over the last five years contributing to national guidelines, and policy and practice.

James collaborates with an extensive network of researchers, government and Aboriginal community health organisations in studies such as: 1) STRIVE a cluster randomised trial of quality improvement in 67 remote communities,2) TTANGO a randomised trial of chlamydia and gonorrhoea point-of-care testing in remote Aboriginal communities and 3) GOANNA a national study of young Aboriginal people that involved every state/territory Australian health department and peak Aboriginal health organisation.

During the last five years James has provided support to Aboriginal communities’ nationally most often delivering training, lectures or specialist services such as reviewing of documents, reviews of programs or assistance in the preparation of funding proposals. He has long standing relationships with NACCHO and every state and territory Affiliate organisation and provides advice to numerous committees nationally. In 2013, James was local convener of the Australasian HIV Conference held in Darwin and in 2014 was Co-convener of the International Indigenous Peoples Conference on HIV/AIDS held in Sydney in July and Co-convener of the Inaugural World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Viral Hepatitis and the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference held in Alice Springs in September.

Over the last five years James has served on many national and jurisdictional committees such as; the Federal Ministerial Committee on STI and BBV (2011-) NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on STI (2003-2011), the Victorian HIV Taskforce (2009- 2010), the Northern Territory Sexual Health Advisory Group (2011-). He is a Board member of the Australasian Society of HIV Medicine and is a member of the World Health Organisation Hepatitis Civil Society Reference Group.

Experience

  • –present
    Associate Professor in Indigenous Health , Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute