A leading Australian health organisation today announced that with just AUS $32.5 million (19.7m GBP), they would be able to end HIV transmission in the country.
In their statement, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) said that “a comprehensive, costed plan to make Australia the first nation to end HIV transmission will be presented to parliamentarians tomorrow.”
They continued: “The AFAO HIV Blueprint charts a course to avert 2,025 HIV transmissions within three years.
“The plan would require additional annual investment of $32.5 million (£19.7m), with the Commonwealth Government offsetting those costs. By 2020 alone, $82 million (£49.8m) would be saved from the costs of providing treatment and support.”
And according to the Burnet Institute, lifetime savings from preventing the first 2,025 patients would avert infection costs “exceeding $2billion (£1.2b).”
Darryl O’Donnell, chief executive officer of AFAO said: “The capacity to end HIV transmission is within reach. Just as we led the world in containing HIV in the 1980s, we can now lead the world in ending transmission.”
Their ambitious and attainable HIV blueprint plan has been “endorsed by 29 community, clinical and research organisations, reflecting an overwhelming expert consensus for the efforts needed to end HIV transmission” and will hopefully be put into action tomorrow by the Australian government.
As of 2015, 25,313 – roughly 0.1 per cent – of Australia’s 24 million people are living with HIV, a lower percentage to that of the UK.
The HIV epidemic has officially been in decline since 2009, and HIV ‘notifications’ (new cases of transmission) in Australia have plateaued for the last five years.
Numbers have remained roughly at 1000 cases per year while those in the UK have also stabilised according to 2016 Public Health England report.
Of the 65 million people who live in the UK, roughly 88,000 were treated for HIV in 2015 – 0.1375%, marginally higher than that of Australia. Of those 88,000, 41% live in London.
London has the highest HIV rate of any city in the UK, roughly 1 in 7 men who have sex with men (MSM) have the virus.
Australia’s lower transmission rate and smaller population should mean that tackling the issue can be done effectively – an example for the rest of the world to follow.
It also said promoting the HIV prevention treatment, PrEP and promoting rapid and regular testing were also crucial to ending HIV.
Many preventative measures are already helping people in the UK with plans announced to start a trial of PrEP on 10,000 patients from September.
Deborah Gold of the National AIDS Trust said: “This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV. PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at high risk of HIV, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic.