BIANCA BARTUCCIOTTO AND OLIVIA MONAGHAN
The rising rate of HIV sufferers is “alarming” but can be combatted through clever policy decisions, WA Aids Council CEO Andrew Burry says.
Mr Burry was responding to the release of new figures by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations showing the number of Australians diagnosed with HIV had risen eight per cent in 2011.
He said the most important weapon against HIV was a clear policy response.
“We’ve increased the number of people testing [for HIV] and we’re engaging already with diagnosed people,” he said.
Shadow Health Minister Roger Cook said more could be done to educate people about HIV.
“It is important that we now refocus the community awareness campaigns and make sure we have things available for people to assist them to take precautions,” Mr Cook said.
“This government has shown less of an interest to be active in the space and it’s obviously important that they refocus their efforts.”
Australia has signed the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, committing to a 50 per cent reduction of the rate of sexual transmission by 2015.
Yet the new data shows an increase from 1137 people diagnosed in 2011, up from 1051 in 2010.
The WAAC was involved in drafting the Melbourne Declaration, which has set out a point-by-point policy plan to combat HIV in Australia.
The Melbourne Declaration calls on State, Territory and Commonwealth governments to increase the uptake of HIV testing, increase access to anti-retroviral treatment and strengthen the body of research and information about the disease.
The office of Health Minister Kim Hames declined to provide a comment.