The National Association of People Living with HIV (NAPWA) has called for an 80 percent reduction in new HIV transmissions in Australia by 2015.
In a session on Australia’s response to the recent United Nations (UN) Declaration on HIV, NAPWA spokesman Bill Whittaker called on governments and health bodies to reorient national HIV strategies to better align with goals set by the UN at the High Level Meeting held in New York in June this year.
At the meeting the UN set a number of bold targets for the national community to meet by 2015, including a scaling-up in the provision of treatment to 15 million people, a reduction in the number of new transmissions by 50 percent and the elimination of mother to child transmissions.
But NAPWA believes more than that can be achieve in Australia.
“We have been sitting on roughly 1000 new HIV transmissions per year in Australia for many years now”, Whittaker said, “It is time we upped our game and lowered the number of new cases of HIV we see in this country.”
New transmissions continue to be mainly amongst men who have sex with men.
Whittaker said he believed an 80 percent reduction in new infections could be achieved in Australia by 2015 through a combination of HIV prevention techniques including education campaigns, a roll-out of new HIV testing strategies, and increasing the number of HIV positive people on antiretroviral drugs.
The use of treatment in prevention has become a hot topic, with research showing that treating people who have HIV with antiretrovirals can reduce their likelihood of transmitting the virus by up to 96 percent.
Currently, around 70 percent of people with HIV in Australia are on antiretroviral therapy but NAPWA proposes that the target should be 90 percent by 2013.
Ministerial Advisory Committee on Bloodborne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections chair Professor Michael Kidd agreed that NAPWA’s national targets need serious consideration.