People living with HIV in Australia who are ineligible for Medicare will soon be able to access treatment free of charge.  

From July 1, individuals with HIV will be able to access their treatment by going to government-funded hospital pharmacies. 

According to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) briefing paper, “HIV treatment must be available for all who need it, regardless of Medicare eligibility. 

‘Greater Access to HIV Treatment Will Keep People Well’

“AFAO and NAPWHA believe greater access to HIV treatment will keep people well and prevent onward transmission through effective and affordable treatment as prevention (TasP), ensuring Australia is on track to meet domestic and global elimination targets.”

“Providing equitable access to HIV treatment and clinical care, regardless of visa status, is a key priority in the AFAO-led Agenda 2025 consensus statement on ending HIV transmission in Australia. 

Dr Horas Wong, nursing lecturer at the University of Sydney, welcomes the news, saying, “I believe it is a welcome change, and I believe it will benefit people with HIV who are ineligible for Medicare significantly.” 

Wong continued, “Nevertheless, there should be clear guidelines at sexual health clinics, community-based s100 prescribers, and hospital pharmacies about how to communicate the change and the possible impacts the change may have, [for example] expected wait time, extra travels to the hospital, with their clients, and support clients who do not usually visit a hospital to obtain their regular medications.”

S100 prescribers are GP that are authorised to prescribe HIV medication called antiretroviral therapy

According to HIV Surveillance Data from the Kirby Institute, overseas-born men accounted for 45% of all new HIV notifications among gay and bisexual men, in 2020.

The AFAO and NAPWHA state that 91% of people with HIV use HIV treatment. Of that 91%, 97% have an undetectable viral load.

According to Positive Life NSW, if you have an undetectable viral load “you cannot transmit HIV through sexual contact.”

In order for Australia to essentially eliminate the transmission of HIV “98% of all people diagnosed with HIV be on treatment, with 98% of people on treatment sustaining an undetectable viral load.”

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