QAHC hits back at HIV data

QAHC hits back at HIV data

The Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) has hit back at Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s use of HIV infection data to back his plans to strip the LGBT health organisation of funding.

QAHC executive director Paul R Martin said the organisation has been deeply concerned about the increase in HIV over the past 10 years – with rates per 100,000 population rising from 2.7 in 2000 to 4.7 in 2010 – but that it proved more funding was needed, not less.

“As the first organisation to respond to HIV in Queensland back in 1984, we are keenly aware of the impact of HIV on the lives of people with HIV, their friends, families and communities and the importance of HIV prevention,” he said.

“We had already written to Health Minister Lawrence Springborg making 29 recommendations on how to improve the HIV response in Queensland and pledged our support to work with the government to implement these.

“The response was to defund us.”

Martin pointed to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009 report on public health expenditure in Australia, showing the Queensland Government spent less on HIV, Hepatitis C and STI control than any other state or territory in Australia.

In 2007-08, Queensland spent $2.34 per person on HIV, Hep C and STI control, compared to $3.65 in Victoria and $7.67 in NSW, according to the report’s data.

“One non-government organisation on its own, tasked with working with gay men, is not solely responsible for HIV infection rates in Queensland,” Martin said.

“We all share responsibility for HIV; government, medical professions, schools, community organisations, businesses, the media, communities and individuals.”

The rate of HIV increase in Queensland is lower among gay men than in other population groups according to a Queensland Health report in 2011, and gay men make up a lower proportion of HIV diagnoses than they did 10 years ago.

Martin said the overall rate of HIV infection in Queensland has caught up over the past 10 years to levels similar to NSW and Victoria

“This is due to population changes and the ‘natural’ progression of HIV across the country.

“The number of HIV infections in Queensland decreased in 2011.”

The prevalence of HIV among gay men in Queensland is 9 percent. By comparison it’s 12 percent in Sydney and 10 percent in Melbourne.

Martin said QAHC remained committed to fighting HIV by using community-based health promotion and peer education, as well as continually improving its own services and raising important public policy issues.

There will be a rally against the proposed changes to QAHC funding and civil union laws in Brisbane this evening from 5pm at King George Square in the CBD.

More information here.

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