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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23297

Mr GEORGIOU (2:25 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Health and Ageing. As the minister is aware, today is World AIDS Day. Would the minister inform the House of what action the government is taking in the fight against AIDS and HIV infection in Australia?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for Kooyong for his question and I appreciate his concern that the government should do everything it can to try to prevent the further spread of this killer disease. Today is World AIDS Day, and it is important to reflect today on what more can be done to halt this modern pandemic. AIDS now afflicts nearly 50 million people world wide, and it is one of the major causes of premature death, particularly in southern Africa and in some countries of the Pacific. In Australia, AIDS has not become the public health catastrophe experts feared two decades ago, thanks largely to sensible public health policies put in place by successive governments on both sides of politics. This year, the federal government will spend $48 million on AIDS prevention campaigns. We will make $55 million available under the Australian health care agreement to help treat AIDS patients in public hospitals. Through the PBS we will make $81 million available for antiretroviral drugs. Importantly, we will spend $28 million on anti-AIDS campaigns abroad, particularly in PNG and Indonesia. Despite the success of domestic AIDS campaigns, no-one can afford to be complacent, and I look forward to working with the new head of the ministerial advisory committee to build on the strengths of our existing policies.