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New HIV infection data is a call to action

AFAO Media Release | 17 October 2012

The release of 2011 HIV diagnosis figures has reinforced the need for new tools if Australia is to reduce the number of infections, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations said today.  Data released today shows that in 2011 the number of people diagnosed with HIV in Australia was 1,137 - up from 1,051 in 2010.

AFAO Executive Director, Rob Lake, said the fact the infection rate had remained over 1000 diagnoses a year for 5 years indicated the need for change.

“Australia can continue to be proud of its successful response over 30 years in limiting HIV, This increase is a call to action to reduce HIV infections in Australia,” Mr Lake said. “We know the tools we need, but the political will and policy action must to be there to change the number of HIV transmissions.”

AFAO is advocating the introduction of rapid HIV testing. Rapid testing is not yet licensed for use in Australia, but allows for a test result within an hour, rather than a week. Increased testing reduces the length of time people are infected but unaware of their infection.

HIV Treatments can be made more easily accessible for people living with HIV. Recent research has clearly demonstrated the clear benefits HIV treatments have for the health of people with HIV. They also play a key role in reducing infectiousness, and thus HIV transmission.

AFAO has joined other National HIV Organisations in endorsing the Melbourne Declaration, released today, which outlines the actions that are critical if Australia is to meet the targets of the UN 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS by 2015. These include reducing annual domestic HIV infection rates by 50% and increasing the number of people with HIV on treatments.

“These UN targets are not just for developing countries; they equally apply to countries like Australia that have relatively small and contained HIV epidemics. Australia is highly regarded internationally as having developed a model HIV response - the measure of our ongoing commitment will be whether we act decisively to meet the challenges set by the UN Declaration”, Mr Lake said.

For media comment please call Rob Lake 0421 040 538

Media contact Nick Lucchinelli (AFAO Media Officer) 0422 229 032.

This page was published on 16 October, 2012