Elimination of HIV Transmission Possible In Australia With New Budget

Elimination of HIV Transmission Possible In Australia With New Budget
Image: Source: Star Observer

Australia could be the first country to achieve virtual elimination of HIV due to the Albanese government’s new Federal Budget, which allocates $43.9 million dollars to enhance access to HIV testing, care and resources. 

The move was endorsed by a number of organisations like Health Equity Matters, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), who said that it reflected findings of the HIV Taskforce and called it a strong step to ending Australia’s HIV epidemic.

The new funding is set to be invaluable for the Australian LGBTQI+ and sex work communities, further expanding HIV self-testing, access to PrEP and the resources available to HIV communities and workforces; all while HIV diagnoses in Australia continue to decline overall, according to the Kirby Institute. 

Furthermore, funding for Healthy Equity Matters and NAPWHA is set to be fully restored with the new budget. Mark Orr AM, President of Health Equity Matters, was extremely positive about the news: “This Budget commitment lights a bright path, focusing on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), testing, treatment, and awareness. 

“It leverages the robust and impactful collaboration between community, healthcare professionals, researchers and government that has been instrumental in Australia’s success since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.”

“With a clear direction in place, we eagerly anticipate collaborating with the Government to achieve the previously unthinkable reward of ending an epidemic.”

How the HIV Budget will be utilised

Mish Pony, CEO of Scarlet Alliance, had similar praise for the government. “This budget commitment is profoundly important for sex workers, who have been vigilant about HIV since its emergence four decades ago,” they said. 

“By resourcing community led responses, we will accelerate the end of Australian HIV transmission. Scarlet Alliance looks forward to working with the Government to ensure that this funding turbocharges Australia’s world-leading response to HIV.”

President of NAPWHA Scott Harlum commented: “Australia now has the potential to become the first country to achieve virtual elimination of HIV. The Budget focus on PrEP, treatment, testing and awareness is very welcome.” 

A number of specific services will be especially bolstered by the new Budget funding. Emen8, delivered by ACON and Thorne Harbour Health, is one such service that will benefit immensely from the increased funding. 

“We welcome the funding announcement in the Federal Budget for the continuation of Emen8,” said ACON CEO Nicholas Parkhill. “This will ensure the provision of vital sexual health information and support services for our communities, along with many other funding commitments for people living with HIV.

“We commend the Australian Government for these commitments and look forward to continuing to work in partnership with them on Australia’s global leading response.”

Another is the Connect project from Thorne Harbour Health, which previously provided free HIV self-tests in vending machines throughout South Australia. Now, that service is expanding nationwide.

“We’re really pleased to see the Australian Government’s commitment to working toward the virtual elimination of HIV transmission in this country,” comments Thorne Harbour CEO Simon Ruth, “and we’re excited to see that includes the expansion and continuation of two projects we’ve been incredibly proud to work on.”

 

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