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April 21, 2024

World AIDS Day – time to end transmission

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Over 40 million people have died worldwide of AIDS over the last 41 years and ending the transmission of HIV is the aim of a specialist taskforce being set up by the Federal Government announced today on World AIDS Day 2022. 

The taskforce will be headed by Health Minister, the Hon. Mark Butler and Assistant Health Minister the Hon. Ged Kearney and will include representatives from the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the National Association of People with HIV Australia alongside medical experts and will be charged with removing bottlenecks and driving progress to end HIV transmission.

There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in 2021 in Australia, the lowest number since the beginning of the epidemic. The majority of new diagnoses remain in gay and bisexual men (68 per cent), but have reduced by more than 52 per cent over the past ten years due to a concerted effort to expand use of the HIV prevention medicine, PrEP, over the past five years say AFAO.

AFO point out that ‘Despite strong momentum in Australia, the global HIV effort has been disrupted by the COVID pandemic. Figures released by UNAIDS show transmissions are rising in the Asia Pacific for the first time in a decade with only six in ten people living with HIV achieving a suppressed viral load. Unequal access to medicine and healthcare along with enduring stigma are hindering efforts.’

One off funding has been provided to a number of projects including $220,000 to AFAO to boost community consultation activities targeting the health issues and barriers LGBTIQ+ Australians may face and $250,000 to LGBTIQ+ Health Australia to assist with consultation on a national LGBTIQ+ Health plan.

UNAIDS

Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong announced a new partnership of $25 million over five years with UNAIDS​. The resourcing will assist the expert technical body to overcome the significant setbacks of COVID-19, and support global efforts to get back on track to end AIDS as a major public health threat by 2030.

AFAO chief executive, Darryl O’Donnell, said we had all the tools needed to end HIV transmission.

‘The only barriers to ending HIV transmission are the ones humanity imposes upon itself,’ Mr O’Donnell said. ‘Stigma and short sightedness are our greatest enemy, while co-operation, evidence and empathy can power our progress.

‘Australia is on the path to an astonishing achievement, virtual elimination of HIV transmission. Today’s announcement by Minister Butler reinforces that momentum, which can only accelerate through additional investment and commitment at the May Budget.

‘AFAO also commends Minister Wong for Australia’s expanded contribution to UNAIDS along with its three year, $266 million investment in the Global Fund, the world’s main body for financing the HIV treatment and prevention in developing nations. These commitments will help people fighting HIV on the frontlines in Asia and beyond to get the response back on track.

‘Epidemics do not have a steady state. They either expand or contract. AFAO and its partners are doubling down on their commitment to end HIV for good.’

Lismore trivia night

ACON Northern Rivers Office and supported by the HIV and Related Program Unit (HARP), are running a poster exhibition and trivia night on Thursday 1 December at Civic Hotel, 210 Molesworth Street, Lismore.

The trivia night will begin with a smoking ceremony by Uncle Gilbert Laurie at 6pm at Spinks Park opposite the Civic Hotel. Community elders will speak about their experiences during the event while sexual health practitioners and the new regional manager from ACON will share some updates on treatment and prevention and other services and programs for the HIV community.


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