The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, and the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, will commemorate World AIDS Day at Parliament House today with community leaders, researchers, business representatives and politicians.
World AIDS Day 2014 marks a year of global leadership on HIV for Australia: hosting the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2014, in Melbourne; advocating for the special needs of our Asia Pacific region as chair of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/ AIDS Programme Coordinating Board; and launching the 7th National HIV strategy.
The 7th National HIV strategy sets the direction for Australia to reverse the trend of increased HIV diagnoses, currently at their highest in 20 years, and to work towards eliminating HIV transmission in this country.
Australia is proud of its leadership on the response to HIV and AIDS has contributed more than $1 billion to the international HIV response in the past decade.
Remarkable progress has been made in tackling new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. Globally, new HIV infections have fallen by 38 per cent since 2001 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 35 per cent since the peak in 2005. More people are on life-saving antiretroviral medication than ever before. This includes over 11,000 people living with HIV in Papua New Guinea, many of whom access treatment funded by the Australian aid program, working with the PNG Government.
Domestically the Abbott Government has announced a number of practical measures to support the early testing and treatment of HIV.
Restrictions preventing the manufacture and sale of HIV home self-tests have recently been removed, and from 1 July 2015 PBS subsidised HIV antiretroviral medicines can be dispensed and accessed through a pharmacy of the patient’s choice.
However, Minister Bishop warned that we cannot become complacent and called for continued action to address the remaining challenges in Australia and our region: weak health systems; stigma and discrimination; laws and policies that inhibit marginalised populations’ access to services; and persistent barriers for women and girls to claim their sexual and reproductive health rights.
Minister Dutton urged people to learn more about HIV, its prevention and treatment, and to take action to prevent HIV transmission through safer sexual practices.
“Close the Gap”, this year’s international theme for World AIDS Day, calls on the world to rise to the challenge of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Australia will continue to work at home and abroad for an equitable, effective, and sustainable response to HIV and AIDS.
Further information about World AIDS Day events is at www.worldaidsday.org.au.
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