HIV prevention advocates have welcomed a $53 million commitment from federal Labor in a bid to end HIV transmission in Australia.
The plan draws from a blueprint released by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations in August, which said an extra investment of $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.
Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King said on Monday that if elected at the next federal election, Labor would expand state and territory trials of HIV prevention medication PrEP to an extra 17,500 people, as negotiations continue over subsidies for the medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Under the plan, several peak national organisations, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, would share in $10 million a year to deliver prevention, testing, treatment programs with local partners under the plan.
The plan would also allocate $3 million a year to improve prevention, testing and treatment for “hidden” populations, including people who have HIV but aren’t yet diagnosed and people who are not treated; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, among whom HIV transmission has rapidly increased; and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) took their HIV Blueprint to Canberra in August, and said federal Labor’s commitment “would allow us to properly pursue the end of HIV transmission within a decade.”
“The emergence of the HIV prevention pill, PrEP, alongside home testing has created unprecedented opportunity to end HIV transmission,” AFAO CEO Darryl O’Donnell said.
“However, the effort will not succeed unless it is nationally driven to ensure nobody is left behind.
“HIV prevention and treatment among Indigenous Australians, migrants and some sections of the gay community is stubbornly difficult. A package such as this would allow us to go the extra mile, to ensure new medicines and testing technology reach every corner touched by the HIV epidemic.
“Australia was an early leader in containing the spread of HIV. We now have an opportunity to resume that global leadership by ending HIV transmission.”