According to a costed plan presented to parliamentarians on 17 June 2021, Australia can end HIV transmission within four years, reportedly averting more than 6000 infections by 2030 and saving $1.4 billion in health costs.
Drawing on the expertise of the nation’s top HIV clinicians, researchers, and community leaders, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the Kirby Institute and the Doherty Institute, the consensus statement, Agenda 2025: Ending HIV Transmission in Australia has found that with an annual additional investment of $53 million and fresh policy settings, HIV transmission could be ended within the next term of parliament (by 2025).
The consensus statement calls for investment in prevention, testing and treatment, along with a renewed campaign against the stigma associated with HIV.
Taken together, this would reportedly provide a path to a 90% reduction in HIV infections, compared to 2010.
It’s said that to achieve this reduction it requires 95% of people at risk of HIV using one or more forms of effective prevention; 95% of people with HIV diagnosed and treated; and 98% achieving undetectable viral load.
“This month we entered the fifth decade of the HIV epidemic. If parliamentarians adopt this plan, we can avoid entering a sixth,” says Darryl O’Donnell, Chief Executive of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.
“The previously unthinkable achievement of ending HIV transmission is entirely within reach, but only with new policy settings and additional investment.
“In the last few years, science and technology have outpaced regulation. We need a fresh approach that expedites approval and funding of new innovations such as self and rapid testing so that they can reach those who need it.
“We must take the learnings from Covid-19 and establish a new public health track, so tests and medicines needed in the public interest get to consumers safely and quickly.”
The Kirby Institute’s Professor Andrew Grulich says that the plan came at a timely moment in Australia’s HIV response.
“The rollout of new prevention technologies has led to a sharp decline in new HIV diagnoses amongst gay and bisexual men in inner cities, but progress elsewhere has been patchy.
“Australia has the opportunity to lead the world by going the final stretch.
“Medical research has developed new methods of HIV prevention that are close to 100% effective. This plan for investment in prevention, testing, treatment and combating stigma provides the path forward for implementation, which can deliver the virtual elimination of HIV.”
For more information and to read the consensus statement, visit: afao.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/AFAO-Agenda-25-Consensus-Statement.pdf