The Federal Government’s national HIV and STI strategies, which expired last year, will be replaced with a new set of strategies on blood-borne viruses and STIs by the end of the year, a health department spokeswoman has confirmed.
-œThe Government is keen to reinvigorate the partnership approach with communities affected by HIV/AIDS and other STIs, that has been a hallmark of Australia’s approach to this issue, the spokeswoman said.
-œConsistent with this partnership approach, close ongoing consultation with stakeholders is an integral component of the review.
Former Sydney doctor Professor Michael Kidd will head the ministerial advisory committee reviewing the four current strategies. He has started  listening to interest groups including sexual health clinics, ACON, BGF and the AIDS Trust in Sydney.
-œThis is a very important part of the role. The Australian Government is very keen to reenergise the partnership, which has been so successful in the past in ensuring that Australia has had a strong response in both prevention and treatment of HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs, Kidd told Sydney Star Observer.
-œClearly the priority over the next three years is turning around the rising infection rates in HIV, chlamydia and syphilis, and looking what can be done with infection rates for hepatitis C which is absolutely critical.
At the same time Western Australian Senator Louise Pratt will chair a new parliamentary liaison group for blood-borne viruses and STIs, the first to look at the issue since the HIV parliamentary group was disbanded under the Howard government.
Senator Pratt told a NAPWA function in Sydney that the community, research and clinical sectors were invigorated, but politicians were not and their focus needed to be renewed.
-œWe’ve been distracted by issues that are completely away from the real issues. It’s the close relationship with government and communities that are the key, Pratt said.
-œWhen I talk about renewal, I’m not talking about the sector, but politicians’ will.
NAPWA president Robert Mitchell said the renewal was overdue, and the new advisory committee was quite distinct from what was in place under the Howard government.
-œThe partnership model was not reflected at the very highest level and there was not a lot of leadership or clear direction at that high level, he said.

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