The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has welcomed the federal government’s announcement of the largest funding commitment towards HIV and STI prevention in two decades.

Amounting to a $45 million commitment over four years, the funding will go towards the implementation of the National Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Strategies 2018-2022.

The strategies are a cooperation between federal and state governments to better prevent, diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses.

In a statement, the AFAO said that both the Coalition and Labor had committed similar funding to allow for additional investment in the HIV workforce, particularly within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

While rates of HIV transmissions are declining overall, they are continuing to rise in marginalised populations.

Rates of HIV transmission have gone up by 33 per cent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders since 2012, while men who have sex with men who were born overseas saw a 10 per cent increase in transmissions in the first half of 2018.

The funding will also go towards bolstering health promotion among communities at risk of HIV, fostering nationally consistent HIV prevention work, and promoting treatment and measures to improve quality of life for people with HIV.

“We strongly and warmly welcome the government’s recognition of the benefits of driving serious progress against HIV,” said AFAO CEO Darryl O’Donnell.

“This package is the greatest boost to resources we have seen in two decades and allows us to accelerate the end of HIV transmission.

“It will also ease the financial impact of the epidemic through early investment for long term gain.

“This investment puts resources where they are needed. It will upgrade the skills of the HIV workforce, foster nationally consistent policy and seriously bolster community education.

“Especially encouraging is the fact we now have bipartisan recognition of the importance of this work. Federal Labor has committed a similar amount.

“We congratulate both the Government and Opposition for their recognition that we can make great progress in driving down HIV transmission. We look forward to working in partnership in deliver on this investment.

“These commitments reflect a return to a bipartisan consensus that Australian can be a global leader on HIV.

“We are at critical juncture in the HIV journey. Science and medicine have delivered exciting news tools like the once-a-day prevention pill PrEP, along with HIV self-testing.

“This package allows us to make the most of these new tools. We can now seriously contemplate the effective end of HIV transmission in Australia.”

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