Australia’s peak HIV organisation has called on the Gillard Government to revise its HIV aid funding in the Asia Pacific region to better target at-risk population groups.
The move follows calls by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the world to work towards “an AIDS-free generation”.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) executive director Rob Lake said he will seek a meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to push for a more inclusive AusAID plan to tackle HIV rates in men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM), sex workers and people who inject drugs in the region.
“We want the Government to accept the notion and respond with targeted funding programs,” Lake told the Star Observer.
“What we need is a more comprehensive plan for those at-risk groups … [of] how we’re going to work with MSM, sex workers and drug users on the ground.”
Lake said while AusAID programs are attempting to tackle the spread of HIV in the region, money often goes to governments with laws in place criminalising sex work and homosexuality, meaning funding does not go where it’s needed.
Speaking at the National Institutes of Health near Washington DC last week, Clinton announced the US would scale up its response to tackling HIV with $60 million to be spent on prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Clinton said, although ambitious, the goal of an AIDS-free generation was possible by improving treatments for those with HIV and increasing prevention efforts.
“An AIDS-free generation, I mean one where, first, virtually no children are born with the virus; second, as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and third, if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others,” she said.
“It is possible with the knowledge and interventions we have right now. And that is something we’ve never been able to say without qualification before.”