New South Wales health minister Jillian Skinner launched an ambitious campaign last week to end HIV infections in the Australian state – where 250 gay men catch the virus each year – by 2020.
The Ending HIV campaign focuses on three simple messages: test more, treat early and stay safe.
‘It has been 30 years since the first diagnosis of HIV in this state,’ said Skinner at the launch of the campaign.
‘Since that time, our efforts have been largely limited to containing and stabilizing HIV transmissions – and we have met with considerable success. Our strategy is now about ending the epidemic… I am confident we can do that.’
The launch of the campaign was planned to coincide with Sydney Mardi Gras which started last Thursday and continues for nearly a month of LGBTQI themed performances and parties, culminating in a parade on Saturday 2 March.
The campaign is being run by New South Wales LGBT health organization ACON.
‘Over the last few years, the practice of HIV prevention has changed significantly and we need to ensure that our community is aware of these changes,’ said ACON president Mark Orr.
‘The fact that we now have the capacity to end the HIV epidemic within 10 years is incredibly significant for our community and we need to do all we can do to inspire gay men and other people in our community to help make history and join us for the final round in the battle against HIV.’
ACON received nearly 80% of its funding from the state government last financial year. In contrast the LGBT health organization in neighboring Queensland had its funding dramatically cut by the new Liberal state government last year.
Health minister Lawrence Springborg accused Queensland Association of Healthy Communities (QAHC) of failing to control the HIV epidemic and re-routed its $2.6 million funding to a government advisory committee.
Watch Ending HIV campaign video here: