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May 18, 2021

Labor promises $53m HIV funding boost

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Australia is not on track to meet its target of ending new HIV infections by 2020 but federal Labor says it’s got a plan to make the disease history.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King will announce on Monday a $53 million pledge under a Shorten government to step up funding to the nation’s peak HIV organisations.

It includes $10 million a year for organisations to target at-risk populations and $3 million a year to target “hidden populations”, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, whose rate of new infections is now above other Australians for the first time.

Labor has also promised almost $4 million a year to allow states and territories to offer another 17,500 Australians Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a preventive HIV medication.

“PrEP is only available to those who can afford the drug themselves or can access it through state and territory trials,” Ms King said in a statement.

“Labor will fund states and territories to expand those trials to reach the people who are missing out under Malcolm Turnbull.

“We have the knowledge to make HIV history – now we need the resources.”

Despite evidence showing the drug is up to 98 per cent effective when taken consistently, it’s not yet on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Ms King will address the media in Melbourne on Monday morning with peak HIV organisations.

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