Australia Commits $19.7 Million to End HIV Transmission and Health Disparities for LGBTIQA+ Community

The Australian Government has announced its commitment to eliminating HIV transmission in Australia and addressing health disparities experienced by the LGBTIQA+ community. In the 2023-24 Budget, an additional $19.7 million will be invested to improve access to HIV testing, treatment, and information, including support for the HIV workforce and addressing other Blood Borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI).

The investment includes expanding access to HIV treatment for people who are ineligible for Medicare, providing funding for the HIV Online Learning Australia program to provide up-to-date education and training for the HIV workforce, and additional support for BBV and STI peaks, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and National Association of People with HIV in Australia (NAPWHA) to drive the national response.

This commitment is part of the implementation of the Eighth National HIV Strategy (2018-2022), which aims to end HIV transmission by 2030. The government's announcement of the HIV Taskforce in December 2022 will develop the Ninth National HIV Strategy, bringing Australia closer to achieving this goal.

The government is also developing a 10 Year National Action Plan for the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people, which will establish an LGBTIQA+ Health Advisory Group to address the barriers faced by the community in accessing healthcare.

Leaving no one behind:                        

Leaving no community behind is critical to ending HIV in Australia and the world. The government's commitment to expanding access to HIV treatment for people who are ineligible for Medicare highlights the importance of this principle. By ensuring that everyone has access to HIV testing, treatment, and information, we can work towards ending HIV transmission and creating a more equitable society for all.

Connect, Participate, Celebrate: NSW Youth Week 2023

From April 20 to 30, NSW Youth Week celebrated the spirit and achievements of young people across the state, with the theme of "Connect, Participate, Celebrate." This annual event was started by the NSW Government in 1989 and has grown into a national celebration of youth in every state and territory in Australia.

If you're aged between 12-24, Youth Week was an opportunity to share ideas, showcase talents, participate in live events, and have your voice heard on issues that matter to you. The NSW Government invites all local councils in the state to jointly fund Youth Week activities in their area and involve young people in all aspects of the event's planning, development, and management.

Moreover, Youth Week is an opportunity to provide health information to young people and highlight the importance of sexual health. 
Play Safe Pro has great resources to boost the confidence of people working with young people to start the tricky conversations about sexual health here. 
Services can also subscribe to free monthly orders of condoms here. 

To find out more information, visit:
•    International Students Health Hub  
•    Play Safe (for young people) 
•    Play Safe Pro (for people who work with young people)

People with HIV in NSW ineligible for Medicare can now access treatment free of charge

From 18 April, individuals with HIV will be able to access treatment by going to government-funded hospital pharmacies.

According to Barbara Luisi, Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, ‘HIV treatment must be available for all who need it, regardless of Medicare eligibility.’

‘We welcome the news and believe expanding access to HIV Treatment will benefit people with HIV who are ineligible for Medicare significantly.’

The new treatment access is also consistent with the NSW HIV Strategy (2021–2025) plan for the virtual elimination of the HIV transmission in NSW for all.  The goals of the strategy are to prevent transmission, normalise testing, start and maintain treatment soon after diagnosis and reduce stigma.

‘We believe greater access to HIV treatment will keep people well and prevent onward transmission through effective and affordable treatment as prevention (TasP), to ensure NSW and Australia is on track to meet domestic and global elimination targets.’

Based on the HIV Surveillance Data from the Kirby Institute there were an estimated 29,460 people living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2021. Of these an estimated 91% has been diagnosed. Of those diagnosed at the end of 2021, an estimated 96% of them retained in care with 92% receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). 

There were an estimated 2,630 people living with HIV in Australian in 2021 who were unaware of their HIV status. The estimated proportion with undiagnosed HIV was highest among people born in Southeast Asia and Latin America (25% each). 

The Australian Government has committed $12.5 million per year to states and territories until June 2026 for HIV treatment for people who are not eligible for Medicare. The initiative is expected to continue beyond 2026. This Guideline replaces compassionate access schemes for HIV access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) operated by pharmaceutical companies.

 To read more about the eligibility criteria, visit NSW Health Guideline HIV Treatment for people in NSW who are not eligible for Medicare.

Make HIV prevention, testing, and treatment more inclusive: 2022 World AIDS Day

There is a pressing need to make HIV prevention, testing and treatment services more inclusive, according to this year’s World AIDS Day campaign. The campaign theme ‘Equalise’ highlights the need to tackle HIV stigma and increase access to these key services, so they are welcoming to everyone including people from diverse communities.

HIV remains a public health concern in Australia, with an estimated 29,090 people living with HIV (Kirby Institute 2020 report). Nearly one in ten Australians living with HIV are unaware they have the virus and may be unknowingly passing on the virus to others.

‘Fear of HIV stigma and discrimination is a major reason behind why many people from diverse communities still hesitate to test for HIV,’ said Barbara Luisi, Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS).

‘Our communities are more likely to miss out on accessing key HIV services on time. The proportion of late HIV diagnoses is higher among people from CALD communities. Testing early is key for accessing HIV treatment quickly. HIV treatment is free, even if you don’t have a Medicare card.’

MHAHS is supporting the campaign by promoting its award-winning resource HIV: What you need to know, available in eight languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. The e-booklet can be downloaded from the here, and free hard copies are available to order.

For media interviews, please contact Sonam Paljor at 9515 1234 or email عنوان البريد الإلكتروني هذا محمي من روبوتات السبام. يجب عليك تفعيل الجافاسكربت لرؤيته.