The Morrison Government is marking World AIDS Day by announcing over $50 million in new funding to extend access to HIV treatment in Australia and to support activities that will support the health and mental wellbeing of people living with blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections.
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It remembers the 30 million people worldwide who have died of HIV/AIDS and reminds us of this ongoing global pandemic.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 is ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’
This year is the 40th anniversary of the first official report of the immune illness that would be later recognised as AIDS. In 2020, there were 633 new diagnoses of HIV in Australia and more than 29,000 people living with HIV.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said, the Morrison Government was investing more than $39 million over 5 years to support people living with HIV in Australia, who are not eligible for Medicare, to access the treatment they need.
“This investment will benefit an estimated 1,000 people currently living with HIV in Australia each year, providing access to appropriate and equitable HIV treatment and care,” Minister Hunt said.
“By expanding treatment to more people living with HIV in Australia, we can improve health outcomes for individuals and contribute to curbing the onward transmission of the virus.”
The Morrison Government will continue to work with the states and territories to establish the new access arrangements which will commence from 1 July 2022.
Improving access to treatment for HIV positive people in Australia regardless of their nationality will contribute to decreasing the transmission of HIV in Australia, a key goal of the Eighth National HIV Strategy which has been agreed by State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments.
“Our Government will also provide more than $11 million in new funding to Australia’s blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections peak bodies to continue their important work across the country,” Minister Hunt said.
The Morrison Government works closely with the peak bodies, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the National Association of People with HIV in Australia, Hepatitis Australia, the Australian Injecting Drug Users League, Scarlet Alliance – Australian Sex Workers Association, and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine.
Access to new and flexible testing arrangements is also being expanded through recent changes by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to increase the availability of the Atomo HIV Self-Test, the only HIV self-test approved for sale in Australia.
New rules now allow easier on-line access, over the counter sales in pharmacies, and supply of the at-home test through organisations or institutions who work with HIV at-risk communities if they have appropriately trained staff.