Chad Hughes (far left) at the World AIDS Day event at Parliament House: image courtesy NAPWHA
Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Disease Elimination, Chad Hughes has called on Australia to reinvigorate its support for the fight against HIV among vulnerable populations in our nearest neighbours in Asia and the Pacific.
Addressing a World AIDS Day event at Parliament House in Canberra, Mr Hughes nominated Papua New Guinea and Indonesia as countries that could benefit significantly from renewed investments in HIV.
“Bilateral investments would allow us to make targeted and focused responses to HIV, particularly in key populations that are left out by their own governments,” Mr Hughes told the World AIDS Day 2018 Parliamentary Breakfast.
“It would also allow Australia to showcase its leadership and the lessons we’ve learned in responding to HIV here, and how we can apply those in the region.
“Historically Australia has done that for the past 25 years, but that’s dropped off over the past five-to-10 (years). I think it’s time to reinvigorate that, so that key populations are not left behind in countries like PNG.”
According to UNAIDS data released ahead of World AIDS Day, approximately 5.2 million people are living with HIV in the region and only a little more than half (2.7 million) have access to life-saving antiretroviral.
Mr Hughes was speaking as part of an expert panel convened to discuss the outlook for HIV in Australia and across the globe.
Other panelists included the Head of Sexual Health and Surveillance Evaluation at the Kirby Institute, Professor Rebecca Guy, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) Board Member David Menadue OAM, and the Director of the Centre for Social Research in Health, Professor Carla Treloar.
Speakers at the event included Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, and Health Minister the Hon Greg Hunt.
The event was organised by the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections, together with the AFAO, the National Association of People with HIV Australia, and the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund.