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International News

Australia: Do More in Area to Stop HIV/AIDS, Government Told

December 10, 2008

With new cases climbing, Australia's earlier investments in HIV prevention could go to waste unless the government steps up prevention funding, AIDS advocates say.

New HIV diagnoses have increased in Australia every year since 1999, when 718 cases were logged, according to the National Center in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research. In 2007, 1,051 new HIV cases were diagnosed, nearly 50 percent higher than the number logged annually during the late 1990s. Cases steadily declined from 1987 to 1999.

Prevention funding has generally declined from the federal to territorial levels over the last decade, said Don Baxter, executive director of Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations (AFAO). The annual increase in cases "shows that our current investments in HIV programs are just not sufficient to reverse the rate of HIV infections in Australia," Baxter said.

New South Wales is "effectively the only state that sustained a strong, well-invested HIV program and it's the only state in Australia that's maintained the lower rates of HIV infection," said AFAO President Graham Brown. In Victoria, "probably the state that withdrew funds, over that period of 10 years, the most their infection rate went up over 100 percent," he noted. Victoria's recent reinvestment in prevention and its stabilization of infection rates both need to be replicated federally, he said.

AFAO also called on Australia to counter severe epidemics in the Pacific region. Indonesia has among the fastest growing epidemics in the area, and infections in Papua New Guinea rose from 10,000 total in 2001 to 54,000 in 2007.

Back to other news for December 2008

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
11.28.2008; Stephen De Tarczynski

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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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