A report from Australia’s HIV Taskforce charts a realistic path to ending HIV transmission by the end of the decade.
Health Equity Matters, the federation of Australia’s leading HIV LGBTIQA+ health organisations, chief executive Darryl O’Donnell said the release of this report signals a rock-solid commitment to leading the world to end an epidemic.
“Inner Sydney has already been confirmed as the first community in the world to achieve the virtual elimination of HIV transmission. Australia can be the first nation,” O’Donnell said.
“This report gives us a clear path, emphasising Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), testing, treatment, awareness and decriminalisation. It draws on the powerful and effective partnership between community, clinicians, researchers and government that has served Australia so well since the start of the HIV epidemic.
“With the direction now clear, we look forward to working with the Government through the coming budget process and in the execution of this agenda. There is no easy win here – the effort required is serious, but the prize is to end an epidemic.”
The report that was put together by the taskforce led by the Federal Health Minister Mark Butler and Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney broadly recommends:
- Making the HIV prevention pill, PrEP, more easily available and boosting its use;
- Expanding HIV testing among hard-to-reach populations;
- Reducing financial barriers to treatment;
- Driving greater awareness of HIV and fighting stigma by working with peak HIV bodies such as Health Equity Matters and the National Association of People with HIV Australia to develop a communication strategy through to the end of the decade; and
- Working with states and territories to promote reforms to laws that criminalise people with HIV.
The latest Kirby Institute HIV surveillance report showed diagnoses in Australia have halved over the last decade, and remained stable over the past year, with 555 diagnoses in 2022. However it pointed to small increases among heterosexual people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in some states and territories.
“When you are trying to defeat an epidemic, the last mile will be the most difficult,” Darryl O’Donnell said.
“That is why this Taskforce’s work and the bi-partisan commitment to ending HIV transmission is so important. We cannot lose momentum now.
“I thank the Government and Opposition for backing in this agenda and making this commitment.”
Last Updated on Dec 1, 2023