Burnet Institute joins Victoria’s HIV community in welcoming the Victorian Government’s commitment of an AUD $1.2million boost in funding to eliminate HIV.
Victorian Health Minister, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP revealed the new funding at the launch of the Victorian HIV Strategy 2017-2020 – a roadmap to the virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020.
The bold strategy sets new targets for Victoria of 95-95-95 by 2020; with a commitment to achieve 95 per cent of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 95 per cent who know their status to be on antiretroviral therapy, and 95 per cent of people on therapy to achieve an undetectable viral load. It also seeks to eliminate HIV-related discrimination and stigma.
“The Victorian Government should be congratulated for its consultative and considered approach to developing this strategy,“ Burnet’s Co-Head of HIV Elimination, Associate Professor Mark Stoové said.
“It rightly sets bold and ambitious targets for HIV testing and care in Victoria, and also re-emphasises the importance of primary prevention of HIV which will remain crucial to meeting HIV elimination targets.
“But what is particularly pleasing is that the strategy places addressing stigma and discrimination front and centre. Stigma remains a key driver of transmissions, is a barrier to service access and impacts individuals’ health and well-being.
“Making stigma and discrimination for people living with or at risk of HIV so prominent in the strategy not only shows national leadership, but makes an internationally significant statement,” he said.
There were 128 new cases of HIV reported in Victoria in 2016.
Minister Hennessy said: “We are determined to rid Victoria of HIV, and the discrimination and stigma it causes.
“We are setting the bar high. Our bold plan will see Victoria beat targets set by the United Nations for the virtual elimination of new HIV infections across the world.”
Also announced, was a Victoria-wide Testing Week for sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses to be held in the second week of September.
In Victoria, HIV continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Removing the stigma and discrimination from Victorian laws, services and society is a key component of the HIV strategy.
For the first time in Australia, the plan also acknowledges women, trans and gender diverse people as priority populations.
The Victorian Government will continue to expand access to the life-changing HIV prevention medication PrEP, which evidence shows to be up to 99 per cent effective in preventing HIV infection.
The HIV Strategy was developed with the support and expertise of the entire sector including researchers from Burnet Institute, clinicians, healthcare professionals, community and grassroots associations, and people living with HIV.
Find out more about Burnet’s Eliminate HIV projects and initiatives.