Australia: Government to Spend $10 Million on HIV Awareness
January 30, 2007
Australia's health minister, Tony Abbott, is considering plans to spend $10 million Australian ($7.7 million U.S.) on an HIV awareness campaign amidst rising infection rates among gay men. HIV infections have increased 41 percent between 2000 and 2005.
A ministerial task force, headed by former Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, recommended a four-year effort targeting those most at risk, gay men, rather than the general community.
"We need a new marketing effort in this area, but I don't think it should be another Grim Reaper campaign," said Abbott, referring to the late 1980s AIDS campaign. "It's about getting the necessary information to people who need it the most. What we need is responsible behavior."
"The Wooldridge committee speculates that, in a sense, we might be a victim of our own success because we now have these antiviral drugs which are much more effective at preventing the progression of HIV," said Abbott. "This is speculation. Let's, as far as is humanly possible, try to get down to the nitty-gritty of why this is happening and get this campaign going in as carefully targeted a way as possible."
The campaign funding, though at the lower end of expectations, is nonetheless a welcome start, said Don Baxter, a spokesperson for the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations.
Australian Associated Press
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