Scarlet News:

Virtual elimination of HIV transmission within reach after Budget

May 15, 2024 | Media release

Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) strongly endorse the Albanese Government’s Budget commitment to drive the virtual elimination of HIV transmission and improve quality of life for people with HIV by expanding access to HIV testing, treatment and information, resourcing the community response to HIV, and better support for the HIV and peer workforce.

Additional funding allocated in the 2024-25 Budget is a strong step to providing the resources needed to end Australia’s HIV epidemic and reflects the findings of the HIV Taskforce, which was led by Health Minister, the Hon Mark Butler and the Assistant Health Minister, the Hon Ged Kearney.

“This budget commitment is profoundly important for sex workers, who have been vigilant about  HIV since its emergence four decades ago,” said Scarlet Alliance CEO Mish Pony. “By resourcing community led responses  we will accelerate the end of Australian HIV transmission. Scarlet Alliance looks forward to working with the Government to ensure that this funding turbocharges Australia’s world-leading response to HIV.”

NAPWHA President Scott Harlum added, “The HIV workforce has been at the forefront of Australia’s response to the epidemic for decades. This funding will ensure that we can continue to provide the support and services needed to reach virtual elimination. NAPWHA is committed to working with the Government to make the most of this opportunity.”

The most recent Kirby Institute HIV surveillance report revealed diagnoses in Australia have decreased by half over the past decade and remained consistent over the last year, with 555 diagnoses in 2022. However, it highlighted minor increases among heterosexual individuals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in certain states and territories.

“When grappling with an epidemic, the end stage is frustrating and requires an extra push,” said Pony. “We must all remain committed to ending HIV as a health threat.”

Harlum said: “Australia now has the potential to become the first country to achieve virtual elimination of HIV. The Budget focus on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), testing, treatment, and awareness is very welcome.”