Following is the text of NAPWHA President Robert Mitchell’s speech:
"Your Excellency Governor-General Bryce, Ms Wendy McCarthy and Mr Bill Bowtell from the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund, distinguished guests, community colleagues, friends and supporters:
This year’s World AIDS Day message is clear... HIV is still here, and it still matters.
However, NAPWHA - the National Association of People Living with HIV - is marking 2011 as a significant turning point in the HIV epidemic, having endorsed a comprehensive document yesterday which describes a plan to revolutionise HIV prevention and maximise treatment impacts in Australia.
The document prepared by Bill Whittaker – a leading HIV advocate here and internationally, and one of the Australian representatives involved in the drafting of the UN Declaration on HIV/AIDS - calls for Australia to achieve virtual elimination of HIV transmission and AIDS diagnoses in this country by 2018.
Some of the strategies included in this plan are:
- Delivering new contemporary awareness campaigns targeting people with HIV and those at risk of HIV infection, particularly gay men
- Promoting HIV testing and making rapid HIV testing available
- Making PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) accessible in this country
- Removing arbitrary restrictions on HIV treatments, and
- Removing disincentives to HIV treatment uptake
The 30 years that has been marked since the discovery of the virusA small infective organism which is incapable of reproducing outside a host cell. has brought us to a point where effective HIV treatments have renewed many lives and prevented many deaths.
More recently, new scientific understandings of how HIV treatment impacts on HIV prevention have brought us to a new chapter in this story.
The promise presenting itself to the global AIDS response has been articulated with the 2011 UN Declaration on AIDS – a declaration developed and endorsed by the Australian government, and which commits to bold and ambitious targets to critically reduce HIV infection rates, and to enable more people living with HIV to access treatments.
This is a declaration which has captured the energy and focus of leaders around the world, the HIV affected communities and people living with HIV. It is a set of commitments which is inspiring talk of the possibility of an AIDS-free generation.
The domestic HIV response in Australia is now being reviewed to align the Australian HIV Strategy, and embolden the Australian HIV partnership, to reach for goals which can particularly be capitalised on in our unique and supportive partnership framework.
Reduce sexual transmission of HIV among MSM by 80% by 2015.
Enable 90% of people with HIV to be on antiretroviralA medication or other substance which is active against retroviruses such as HIV. treatment by 2013.
Setting targets which hold a sector accountable to sustaining achievements indefinitely, will not only revitalise an Australian response to HIV, but also show leadership by implementing the Declaration’s commitments domestically and championing its implementation internationally.
The Australian Government and others in the partnership at all levels can be excited about this vision and their own contributions to such significant achievements.
The World AIDS Day message is clear, but NAPWHA’s message of hope and support out to all our communities affected by HIV is this...
Here’s to the day when we won’t need a world AIDS Day.