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International News

Australia: Spending Cuts Blamed for State HIV Surge

June 19, 2008

An analysis of Australia's HIV control efforts found that cuts to prevention programs and infighting between state governments and AIDS groups have resulted in major disparities in infections in Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. From 1999 to 2005, HIV notifications among gay men spiked 131 percent in Victoria, 55 percent in Queensland, but only 8 percent in NSW.

Of the three eastern mainland states, Victoria spends the least on HIV prevention campaigns. In 2005-06, the state spent $15,500 (US $14,700), compared with $45,000 (US $42,700) for Queensland and $545,000 (US $517,500) in NSW. Victoria also has least full-time-equivalent positions dedicated to HIV/STD prevention among gay men -- eight, compared to 29 in NSW and 15 in Queensland, according to the analysis.

The report showed the number of gay men who do not know their HIV status is higher in Victoria and Queensland than in NSW. In addition, risky behaviors such as unprotected anal intercourse have increased in Victoria and Queensland since 2001, while declining in NSW.

The authors determined that if HIV diagnoses in NSW had risen by the same proportion as in Victoria from 1999 to 2006, NSW would have an additional 1,536 cases. Based on the differences in annual spending on HIV prevention between the two states, the report said the cost of preventing each case was $31,250 (US $29,670).

Christopher Fairley, professor of sexual health at Melbourne University and one of the report's authors, said that given the $500,000 (US $475,000) lifetime cost of HIV treatment, the analysis showed the cost-effectiveness of HIV prevention programs.

A separate report found that disagreements about the content of HIV education materials in Victoria have hampered its prevention program. That paper described the relationship between the Victorian Department of Human Services and the Victorian AIDS Council as "poor."

The analyses, "Investment in HIV Prevention Works: A Natural Experiment," and "Effective Partnership and Adequate Investment Underpin a Successful Response: Key Factors in Dealing with HIV Increases," were published in Sexual Health (2008;5(2):207-210 and 193-201, respectively).

Back to other news for June 2008

Adapted from:
Sunday Age (Melbourne)
06.15.2008; Dan Harrison

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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