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Monday, 21 September 1987
Page: 370

Ms CRAWFORD —Can the Minister for Community Services and Health inform the House of the reason for the 76 per cent increase in funding for the battle against acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and can he indicate the proposed allocation of those funds?

Dr BLEWETT —I thank the honourable member for her question. It relates to one of the more important health challenges this country is facing. We have increased AIDS funding under this Budget by some 76 per cent, noting that 583 Australians already have been diagnosed with full AIDS. Of that number, 319 have died. The present expectation is that the numbers diagnosed will double every 10 months and a conservative estimate for 1990-91 is a cumulative total case load of some 3,000. Of the $20.5m that we have allocated, $9.5m goes directly to the States for cost shared programs. That has been adjusted this year to give particular weighting to those States with the heaviest demands, based partly on the total number of AIDS cases. This weighting means that New South Wales, which has by far the highest proportion of AIDS cases, has been particularly well treated as a result of this. The new formula is an attempt to link the needs of the States to the funding they receive. In addition we have doubled the amount of money on AIDS research, taking it to $3m. Funding for the National Reference Laboratory has also been increased so that the Laboratory can continue with its important work in evaluating AIDS technology and the changes that take place in AIDS technology.

Finally, as we have no vaccine and no cure and as education must remain at the very forefront of our activities, for the National Advisory Committee on AIDS budget this year we have put aside $4m for information and education. Because behaviour change is so important and community groups can play a major role in this, there is another $3m for national community grants. This is all part of a co-operative campaign between the Commonwealth Government and the States to fight what is, as I have said before, one of the biggest public health challenges we have faced in this country since the Second World War.