IN yet another landmark announcement made during the AIDS 2014 conference, the Queensland Government has revealed they are joining forces with leading international experts from Canada to build their efforts to end HIV.

The Australian first will see a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Queensland Health Department, HIV Foundation Queensland (HIVFQ) and the British Columbia Centre for Excellence (BC-CfE) in a combined effort to reduce transmission of HIV in Queensland.

The MoU was signed this morning by Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, HIVFQ chair Dr Darren Russell and BC-CfE Director Dr Julio Montaner at the 20th International AIDS Conferecne in Melbourne.

It will see the development of a partnership to enable a HIV treatment as prevention (TASP) strategy to be delivered in Queensland.

This particular strategy also allows for HIV antiretroviral therapy to be offered immediately to people living with HIV who are eligible and want to commence treatment.

“Getting people onto HIV treatment early also decreases HIV transmission and new cases of HIV,” Dr Russell said.

“As part of the strategy, we are committed to achieving increased treatment uptake. We are aiming for 90 per cent of people living with HIV to be on treatment.

“The foundation is also really keen to work with partners and key stakeholders to promote the TASP strategy in Queensland to ensure we achieve the best possible outcomes.”

The MoU meant that the co-signing organisations were agreeing to work together to formalise a research collaboration to develop new research and HIV programs over three years,” according to Dr Russell.

“We will partner to develop, implement and evaluate the Queensland TASP initiative and other related HIV health research,” he said.

This particular TASP strategy was introduced by Dr Montaner in 2006 at the Toronto International AIDS Conference, which is believed to have lead to AIDS being virtually eliminated, thanks to a marked decrease in the spread of new HIV infections in British Columbia.

Dr Montaner said that the strategy had significant implications for Queensland.

“This model is based on scientific evidence. We know from the success we’ve had with TASP, it holds the promise of eliminating HIV and AIDS in our lifetime,” he said.

Springborg welcomed the MoU, the first of its kind for Australia at an international level, and said that the partnership was a milestone for the ongoing fight against HIV in Queensland and rolling out effective treatment.

“[The MOU] provides Queensland with the opportunity to lead the development, implementation and evaluation of TASP in Australia. We believe this will have significant impacts on national and international efforts working towards the virtual elimination of HIV,” he said.

(Main image: Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg signs the MoU. Photo: David Alexander; Star Observer)

 

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