Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025, avert more than 6,000 infections by 2030 and save $1.4 billion in health costs, according to a bold plan presented to parliamentarians today.
The costed proposal, Agenda 2025: Ending HIV Transmission in Australia is a consensus statement that draws on the expertise of the nation’s top HIV clinicians, researchers and community leaders, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the Kirby Institute, and the Doherty Institute.
The statement, which calls for investment in prevention, testing and treatment, as well as a campaign against the stigma associated with HIV, declares that with an additional investment of $53 million and fresh policy settings, Australia could eliminate HIV transmission by 2025.
The alliance says its plan would provide a path to a 90% reduction in HIV infections compared to 2010. It would require 95% of people at risk of HIV using one or more forms of effective prevention; 95% of people with HIV diagnosed and treated; and 98% achieving undetectable viral load.
Darryl O’Donnell, chief executive of the Australian Federation of AIDs Organisations, the peak national body for Australia’s community HIV response, says if politicians adopt the plan, the country can avoid a sixth decade of the HIV epidemic.
“The previously unthinkable achievement of ending HIV transmission is entirely within reach, but only with new policy settings and additional investment,” he said.
“In the last few years, science and technology have outpaced regulation. We need a fresh approach that expedites approval and funding of new innovations such as self and rapid testing so that they can reach those who need it.”
Kirby Institute Professor Andrew Grulich said the plan had emerged during a pivotal juncture in Australia’s HIV response.
“The rollout of new prevention technologies has led to a sharp decline in new HIV diagnoses amongst gay and bisexual men in inner cities, but progress elsewhere has been patchy. Australia has the opportunity to lead the world by going the final stretch,” Professor Grulich said.
“Medical research has developed new methods of HIV prevention that are close to 100% effective. The plan for investment in prevention, testing, treatment and combating stigma provides the path forward for implementation, which can deliver the virtual elimination of HIV.”