Advocates say $45 million in federal budget will boost HIV prevention

HIV AIDS red ribbon

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has said the federal government’s allocation of $45 million in Tuesday’s budget to prevent, diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses will greatly aid efforts to fight HIV.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) said the funding over four years will foster nationally consistent HIV prevention work, bolster health promotion among communities at risk of HIV, and promote treatment and measures to improve quality of life for people with HIV.

AFAO CEO Darryl O’Donnell said the funding will mean additional investment in the HIV workforce, particularly within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“This package is the greatest boost to resources we have seen in two decades and allows us to accelerate the end of HIV transmission,” O’Donnell said in a statement.

“It will also ease the financial impact of the epidemic through early investment for long term gain.

“This investment puts resources where they are needed.

“It will upgrade the skills of the HIV workforce, foster nationally consistent policy and seriously bolster community education.”

In 2017, AFAO representatives went to Canberra to deliver an investment blueprint to politicians showing an extra $32.5 million a year would deliver $82 million worth of savings to the federal budget in three years and $2 billion in the longer term.

O’Donnell said it was “especially encouraging” to see bipartisan recognition of the importance of the the funding, with federal Labor committing to a similar amount if elected.

“We congratulate both the government and opposition for their recognition that we can make great progress in driving down HIV transmission,” he said.

“We look forward to working in partnership to deliver on this investment.

“These commitments reflect a return to a bipartisan consensus that Australian can be a global leader on HIV.”

O’Donnell said Australia is at “a critical juncture in the HIV journey.”

“Science and medicine have delivered exciting news tools like the once-a-day prevention pill PrEP, along with HIV self-testing,” he said.

“This package allows us to make the most of these new tools. We can now seriously contemplate the effective end of HIV transmission in Australia.”

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