One of Australia’s leading HIV research bodies has called for greater government and philanphropic support.
The Burnet Institute’s director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb said the fight to find a cure for HIV was a fight that needed to be won.
“As Australia’s GLBTI community celebrates the 35th Sydney Mardi Gras… the fight to turn the tide against HIV and find a cure continues,” Crabb said.
“Australian scientists are at the cutting-edge of HIV research and more than ever we need on-going financial support from the federal government and from the community to achieve a 30-year quest to find a cure.”
He said progress towards finding a cure would stall without an increased commitment in funding.
Prof Crabb said a lack of a vaccine or cure had been a major factor in the continued spread among vulnerable populations in the Asia/Pacific region and African countries.
“In many countries of our region, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs are often unable to access HIV services either because of their lack, or from a fear of discrimination and harassment. This contributes to increased spread of infection but also an increased risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis and other infectious diseases,” he said.
“At Burnet we are tackling HIV head-on, with more than half our work addressing laboratory-based research into finding a cure for the disease while our public health programs are focused on education and prevention in Australia and overseas.”
While a vaccine and a cure were being prioritised, he said Burnett scientists had made significant progress on areas in diagnostics, drug treatment, HIV latency and antiretroviral drug toxicity and microbicides for HIV prevention.
More than 34 million people around the world live with HIV which claims the lives of more than two million each year.