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Federation Chamber: Australia is beating targets to eliminate HIV/AIDS

22 Nov | '2021

 

 

I’d firstly like to thank the member for Higgins for bringing this motion before the chamber to be highlighted for those living with HIV/AIDS in Australia. Her proactive approach to representing her electorate, the broader community and the medical profession is evident through her output of work and her continued dedication to deliver better medical outcomes for all Australians, as a government member.

Australia continues to be a world leader in the elimination of HIV and, in 2019, it became one of only a handful of countries to achieve the 2020 HIV elimination targets set by UNAIDS. Overall, HIV transmissions continue their long-term trend of decreasing in Australia.

In 2019, 90 per cent of the 29,045 people suspected to be living with HIV in Australia had been tested and diagnosed with HIV. Of those diagnosed, 91 per cent were on treatment, and, of those on treatment, 97 per cent had an undetectable viral load, which is great news for all Australians and for those who are suffering from this disease.

The Australian government continues to work towards the important goal of eliminating HIV altogether in Australia and of supporting international efforts to do just that.

In my own electorate, researchers at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, located within the Griffith University Southport campus in my electorate—my alma mater—have developed a novel anti-HIV protein which suppressed HIV levels in the bone marrow, spleens and brains of mice and prevented the virus from replicating in those areas.

The federal government announced in 2019 a significant investment in the Australian HIV response by way of a funding boost of $45.4 million over four years. Griffith University on the Gold Coast has received more than $3 million in funding for health and science initiatives.

Under the Morrison government, Australia has beat the 2020 HIV elimination targets set by UNAIDS, and we are confident in Australia’s progress to achieve the 2025 UNAIDS targets. These are ambitious targets, and we still have work to do in this area.

The government continues to support efforts to eliminate HIV and to support people living with HIV, working closely with the sector. In February 2021 this year, the TGA registered the first prolonged-release injectable HIV treatment for use in Australia. Injectable HIV treatments have several benefits for the patient, including removing the need for daily tablets. Under the Morrison government, Australians are able to access affordable HIV prevention medication and protect themselves and others from possible transmission.

We’re committed to supporting all Australians—including those at higher risk of HIV, the LGBTIQ community—to ensure their safety and prosperity so they can live free and long lives. In addition, pre-exposure prophylaxis was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on 1 April 2018.

As at March this year, 44,798 people had been dispensed PBS-subsidised PrEP. The number of HIV notifications in Australian-born men with male-to-male sex as an exposure risk has decreased since this PBS listing, which is great news again. This has been attributed to the introduction of PrEP on the PBS. So it’s going in the right direction; it’s going down.

As we approach World AIDS Day, on 1 December this year, it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of those working in this sector and ensure that we all remain committed to supporting the elimination of HIV and AIDS in Australia. Agenda 2025 was launched on 17 June 2021 at Parliament House in Canberra.

It will cost $53 million per annum and proposes a range of activities for community campaigns, peer education, and HIV stigma education and media programs. Campaigns and peer education support the implementation of the National Blood-Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Research Strategy.

Australia is working towards achieving the targets that I outlined. In 2019, 90 per cent of the 29,045 people living with HIV had been diagnosed. As I said, of those, 91 per cent were on treatment. Of those, 97 per cent had an undetectable viral load. We’re certainly making headway with HIV-AIDS in Australia, and I commend the Australian government for the work that we are doing to eliminate it across our great nation.

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