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20th anniversary of World Aids Day.



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THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP

Minister for Health and Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

1 December 2008

20th anniversary of World Aids Day

Today is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day - one of the world’s most recognised commemorative days.

Since 1988, World AIDS Day has helped to raise awareness worldwide about HIV/AIDS issues and the need to support and understand people living with this disease.

While Australia continues to have one of the lowest rates of new HIV diagnoses in comparison with other developed countries, there has been a worrying trend in infection rates for HIV/AIDS in Australia in recent years. According to recent research, the overall number of new HIV diagnoses in Australia has increased - from 718 in 1999 to 1,051 in 2007. In 2007 it was estimated that 16,700 people were living with HIV/AIDS.

The Australian theme for this year’s World AIDS Day - ‘Enjoy life. Take control. Stop HIV/AIDS.’ - is an appeal to all Australians to take personal responsibility in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS through safe behaviour, such as practising safe sex and using condoms.

The theme’s positive approach also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

The Government is committed to reinvigorating and strengthening our partnership with communities at risk of and living with HIV/AIDS. We need to ensure that the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS can inform Australia’s strategy on HIV/AIDS. We need to engage closely with communities at risk of or affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Australian Government is also committed to raising awareness and reducing HIV transmission in our neighbouring countries in the Asia Pacific region. To this end, I am pleased to announce today that the Australian Government is committing $150,000 over two years to the Albion Street Centre in Sydney to coordinate a network of 30 regional World Health Organisation Collaborating Centres for HIV/AIDS across 10 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

The Albion Street Centre is recognised internationally for its efforts to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS in developing countries through the promotion and delivery of multidisciplinary treatment, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220.

HIV/AIDS FACT SHEET

Between 1981 and 2007, 27,331 Australians were infected with HIV, 10,230 diagnosed with AIDS and 6,767 had died from AIDS-related illnesses. In 2007 it was estimated that 16,700 people were living with HIV/AIDS.

In 2008-09, the Australian Government will invest more than $28 million on programs in Australia to prevent and treat HIV and other sexually-transmissible infections (STIs), including:

• $8.8 million for four national research centres in HIV and STIs;

• $5.3 million for community-based organisations for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis education and prevention;

• $12.8 million for education, prevention and surveillance activities in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ sexual health; and

• $184,000 for the National Survey of Australian Secondary Students, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health.

This investment is in addition to existing Government initiatives to implement a robust response to chlamydia and other STIs, including HIV. These initiatives include:

• more than $12.5 million from 2005-06 to 2010-11 for increased awareness, improved surveillance and a pilot testing program for chlamydia; and

• $9.8 million from 2007-08 to 2010-11 for a national STI prevention campaign.

This is in addition to pharmaceutical and other medical costs associated with the treatment of HIV/AIDS. In 2007 - 2008 the Australian Government spent around $127 million for Highly Specialised Drugs program medications for HIV/AIDS.

At the end of 2007, there were an estimated 33 million people living with HIV worldwide. In addition, an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections and about two million AIDS-related deaths were recorded globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most seriously affected region, accounting for 67% of all people living with HIV and for 72% of AIDS deaths in 2007.

Australia’s nearest neighbours, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, are also facing growing HIV epidemics.

The Australian Government is contributing about $130 million in 2008-09 in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

For more information on HIV/AIDS statistics, see the Media Resource Kit at http://www.worldaidsday.org.au/internet/wad/publishing.nsf/Content/media