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Appointment to Aids advisory committee

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The Commonwealth Health Minister, Dr Neal Blewett, announced today that Miss Ita Buttrose had been appointed to chair the AIDS Advisory Committee.

Dr Blewett said that it had become clear at the Melbourne meeting of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers that there should be a mechanism through which AIDS researchers and the Commonwealth health authorities could have constant contact and discussion with at—risk groups, the Red Cross, the medical profession, health professionals, unions and state health departments.

"The AIDS Advisory Committee will have several important tasks. There is a need to coordinate our efforts designed to increase the number of long-term women donors. The response of Australian women to this challenge has been splendid, and I pay particular thanks to Mrs Hawke and Mrs Peacock. I will ask the AAC at its first meeting to recommend how the Red Cross can best cope with the new demands being placed on it. The AAC will also consider the nature, content, style and format of a Commonwealth advertising campaign on AIDS."

"The membership of the AAC will comprise representatives of the Australian Medical Association; Commonwealth and State health depart­ ments; the ACTU; relevant community groups and the AIDS Task Force."

The AIDS Task Force is an expert group of clinicians and researchers chaired by Professor David Penington. Professor Penington will represent the AIDS Task Force on the AIDS Advisory Committee."

"I am very pleased that Miss Buttrose has agreed to serve on the AAC. I look to her and the AAC to provide the community with well- founded and objective information about AIDS. In Australia and inter­ nationally researchers and scientists have made major advances in understanding AIDS and in developing effective counter-measures.

It is vitally important that these advances are conveyed as soon as possible to the public and to at—risk groups. Calm and effective communication is the only answer to irrational and unncesssary fear and panic."

Dr Blewett said that the AAC, which would report directly to him, would hold its first meeting at the end of next week. AAC recommend­ ations will be conveyed through the Commonwealth Health Minister to the next meeting of Australian Health Ministers to be held in Melbourne on 19 December.

CANBERRA AND SYDNEY 21 November 1984