Australia on path to ending HIV transmission by 2030

By Samantha Lock
Updated December 1 2023 - 11:50am, first published 11:45am
Australia is on track to eliminate HIV transmission by 2030, but some challenges remain. (EPA PHOTO)
Australia is on track to eliminate HIV transmission by 2030, but some challenges remain. (EPA PHOTO)

Australia has vowed to end HIV transmission by the end of the decade as World AIDS Day honours the lives affected by the epidemic.

A report from the nation's HIV Taskforce charts a path to ending the spread of the virus by 2030.

Taskforce chair, Health Minister Mark Butler, said Australia's HIV response had been "exceptional and world leading" but significant challenges still needed to be addressed to end transmission entirely.

"The HIV Taskforce report will help ensure Australia remains on track to eliminate HIV transmission by 2030," he said at a parliamentary breakfast on the eve of World AIDS Day.

NSW is already well on the way towards the virtual elimination of HIV across the state.

The state's Health Minister Ryan Park signed the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities agreement, a global partnership between more than 500 cities to end HIV epidemics by 2030.

"NSW is a leader in HIV prevention and treatment in Australia and continues to reduce the number of new transmissions each year," Mr Park said in a statement on Friday.

"This World AIDS Day, I want to remind the community that HIV doesn't discriminate, and neither should we."

Mr Park said stigma and discrimination are barriers to HIV prevention, testing and treatment, and pledged to eliminate that issue in healthcare settings.

The Fast-Track Cities Declaration commits NSW to delivering zero HIV-related stigma and targets of 95 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their status.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged the community to undertake regular STI screening that includes HIV to allow for early diagnosis and care.

An HIV Taskforce report published this week recommends making the HIV prevention pill, PrEP, more easily available and boosting its use as well as expanding HIV testing among hard-to-reach populations.

It also recommends reducing financial barriers to treatment, driving greater awareness of HIV and fighting stigma and working with states and territories to promote reforms to laws that criminalise people with HIV.

The latest Kirby Institute HIV surveillance report showed diagnoses in Australia have halved over the last decade, and remained stable over the past year, with 555 diagnoses in 2022.

However it pointed to small increases among heterosexual people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in some states and territories.

Australian Associated Press

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