AUSTRALIA could be the first country to effectively eliminate new HIV transmissions, according to a new plan developed by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).
The plan explains that extra government funding of just $32.5 million a year would prevent new transmissions and eventually save the government $2 billion, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
The plan calls for new national HIV education programs, promotion of PrEP and rapid testing, and a new media campaign to promote safer sex for Australians when travelling overseas.
It also highlights the need for a sustained HIV response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whose rate of HIV notification is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians.
“HIV transmission has plateaued at approximately 1000 notifications per year for the past five years,” said AFAO chief executive Darryl O’Donnell.
“Yet the capacity to end HIV transmission is within reach. Just as we led the world in containing HIV in the 1980s, we can now lead the world in ending transmission.”
The new blueprint has been endorsed by dozens of experts in community, clinical and research organisations.
Researchers from the Burnet Institute say the savings on HIV treatment would exceed the cost of the strategy by 2020.
“It makes extraordinary financial sense,” said O’Donnell.
An estimated 25,313 people were living with HIV in Australia in 2015, with an estimated 2,619 unaware of their status.