All with HIV to have access to antiretroviral medicine

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations welcomes an announcement from Health Minister Greg Hunt that every person living in Australia with HIV will have access to antiretroviral medicine.

This is regardless of whether they have Medicare eligibility.

The Minister announced the initiative at a parliamentary breakfast this morning to mark World AIDS Day, the international moment of recognition and awareness of HIV and AIDS.

Minister Hunt also announced an additional $1.5 million in funding for HIV community workforce development. It comes as data released today by the Kirby Institute reveals Australia has met the UNAIDS global goals for HIV treatment and prevention, with 90%t of those living with HIV tested and diagnosed, 91% on treatment and 97% achieving an undetectable viral load.

“This is a critical public health measure,” says Darryl O’Donnell, chief executive of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.

“For too long, too many people in Australia who aren’t eligible for Medicare struggled to afford the medicine needed to keep them healthy. This act of leadership will give access to antiretroviral medicine to everyone in Australia who needs it. This is more than a question of treatment, it is also a question of prevention because a person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV.

“The need to solve this issue has been long recognised. The Commonwealth and all State and Territories signed on to a solution through the eighth National HIV Strategy and we’re delighted that solution is now in sight.

“Clinicians across Australia have consistently raised the problem of Medicare ineligibility for HIV medicine. This will close an important gap in the Australian HIV response, allowing us to make further progress in treating and preventing HIV, and ultimately, in ending transmission.

“But most of all, people with HIV have advocated for this change. Led by the National Association of People with HIV Australia, advocates have marshalled the evidence and put forward the compelling case for this essential public health measure.”