Labor Government Takes Action To Reduce HIV Rates

The Andrews Labor Government will develop new guidelines to provide better and safer access to the latest prevention treatment to reduce rates of HIV.

Launching World AIDS Day 2015 at the Doherty Institute today, Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, announced new guidelines on access to Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.

The new guidelines will support Victorian HIV general practitioners to prescribe off-label PrEP to high risk individuals until it is approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

PrEP is a biomedical treatment that is increasingly being used internationally as a prevention strategy. It involves HIV-negative people using HIV medication to prevent becoming infected, and when taken consistently has been shown to be over 94 per cent effective at preventing HIV infection.

The new guidelines mean more people will be able access off-label PrEP safely by setting out clear guidelines on prescribing the medication and follow up tests required.

Ms Hennessy also joined City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, to announce that Melbourne will become Australia’s first Fast-Track City, committing the city to reaching the Joint United Nations’ targets on reducing HIV and stigma and discrimination.

The Fast-Track Cities initiative is a partnership between UNAIDS, UN-Habitat, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, and the City of Paris.

Fast-Track Cities pledge to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 HIV treatment targets by 2020 – which aim to ensure that 90 per cent  of people who are HIV positive know their status and are on treatment, and that 90 per cent of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load.

The Labor Government is developing a HIV strategy in partnership with the HIV sector to achieve the virtual elimination of new HIV notifications by 2020 and to meet the targets set out in the Fast-Track Cities pledge.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2015 is Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.

This year is the 34th anniversary of the first confirmed case of HIV, and to date, 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide and 39 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.

The Labor Government is committed to reducing stigma and discrimination and promoting diversity so Victorians can access the HIV prevention, treatment and care services they need.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy

Today is a day for all of us to show our support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS.”

“We’re working hard to achieve virtual elimination of new HIV notifications by introducing new guidelines to provide better and safer access to the latest prevention treatment.”

“I’m proud to announce Melbourne will become Australia’s first Fast-Track City as we work towards achieving our target of 90-90-90.”

Quotes attributable to City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle

“Melbourne hosted the 20th International AIDS Conference last year and it left a lasting scientific, social and cultural legacy for our city, including the signing of the Melbourne Declaration.”

“Our next step towards reducing stigma around AIDS and improving the lives of people who have contracted HIV is to become a United Nations Fast Track City.”

“Becoming Australia’s first Fast Track City is vital for improving the health of Victorians with HIV and to achieving the Australian target of the virtual elimination of new HIV infections.”

 Quotes attributable to UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé

“We can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 if the world’s major cities like Melbourne act immediately and decisively to Fast-Track their AIDS responses.”

“A Fast-Track AIDS response will also encourage new, cutting-edge service delivery programs that can pave the way for cities to accelerate access to services for other public health challenges, including tuberculosis, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, gender-based violence and non-communicable diseases.”

Quotes attributable to International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, President/CEO, José M. Zuniga

“We welcome Melbourne as a Fast-Track City, committing itself to optimizing its HIV care continuum, attaining 90-90-90 and zero discrimination and stigma targets, and ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”

“The network of high HIV burden Fast-Track Cities around the world will benefit greatly from Melbourne’s engagement as it accelerates its local AIDS response and shares key lessons in ensuring that all people living with HIV, but particularly marginalized and stigmatized people, can access sexuality education, HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy, as well as prevention options such as condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).”