The Liberal National Government is strengthening its commitment to ending HIV with the announcement of funding for a new strategy that aims to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV, the approval of the first HIV self-testing kit and the listing of a new medicine on the PBS.
The first HIV self-testing kit, the Atomo Self Test was approved for use by the TGA yesterday. The test is a single-use rapid finger stick test for the detection of antibodies to HIV and will enable people to test for HIV in their own home.
This will make testing accessible and convenient especially for people that need to test frequently or do not test at all.
The medicine Juluca® (dolutegravir and rilpivirine), which works to stop the replication of the HIV virus, will be listed on the PBS on December 1, which is World AIDS Day.
This listing means around 860 people a year will be able to access this medicine which would otherwise cost patients up to $10,800 a year without the PBS subsidy.
Patients will now pay a maximum of just $39.50 per script, with concessional patients, including pensioners, paying just $6.40 a script.
Getting people with HIV on sustained, effective treatment is important not only for the individual’s health but also because people with HIV who take treatment daily, and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus.
I am also pleased to announce that the Government will commit $5 million to support the implementation of Australia’s next National Blood Borne Virus and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategies which include:
- The Eighth National HIV Strategy 2018–2022
- The Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI Strategy
- The Fifth National Hepatitis C Strategy
- The Fourth National STI Strategy
- The Third National Hepatitis B Strategy
The Eighth National HIV Strategy will be the roadmap to help further reduce new infections and improve health outcomes.
Its goals include virtually eliminating HIV transmission in Australia by 2022, reducing mortality and morbidity related to HIV and supporting those living with HIV by reducing stigma and discrimination.
A few short years ago defeating HIV was seen as impossible but today we are on the cusp of eliminating the transmission of HIV.
In 2017, more than 27,000 people were living with HIV in Australia.
Last year, Australia recorded 963 HIV notifications—the lowest annual number of notifications since 2010.
There has been a reduction of 15 per cent in diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in the past year alone.
I am proud to say that our Government is taking decisive action with a range of measures to address HIV in our community.
These important announcements today come on top of our Government’s decision this year to list the daily preventative medication known as PrEP on the PBS on 1 April 2018.
The $180 million listing of PrEP, on the PBS, benefits up to 32,000 patients who would otherwise pay $2,496 a year without the subsidy.
By listing PrEP we put Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end transmission of HIV.
Since the first HIV diagnosis in Australia more than 30 years ago, our understanding around prevention, transmission and treatment of HIV has improved significantly.
Our Government’s strong economic management ensures we can continue to invest in coordinated and targeted health initiatives to prevent, treat and support Australians living with HIV.
Australia’s theme for World AIDS Day 2018 is ‘Everybody Counts’. World Aids Day is about ensuring people with HIV can participate fully in the life of the community, free from stigma and discrimination.
The strategies are available on the Department of Health website www.health.gov.au/sexual-health