‘Now More Than Ever’ is the theme for World AIDS Day 2020, an acknowledgement of the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for people living with HIV.
Delivering the keynote address at the Victorian Community Launch, conducted virtually, Chad Hughes, Burnet Deputy Program Director Disease Elimination, said people living with HIV understand many of the challenges that coronavirus presents for the wider community.
“We have been fighting COVID-19 since February and we are all over it, we want our normal lives back,” Mr Hughes said.
“We’ve been fighting the human immunodeficiency virus for nearly 40 years, but people living with HIV don’t have pandemic fatigue, they stand strong each day, following the rules, taking their medications to protect others and not pass on the virus.
“Now more than ever is not the time for pandemic fatigue on HIV.”
A special highlight of World AIDS Day 2020 was the Victorian Community Forum moderated by Dr Chris Lemoh (Monash Health) with panelists Carol El-Hayek (Burnet Institute), Valentina Gamarra (Living Positive Victoria), Dr Tafi Marukutira (Burnet Institute), Hope Mathumbu (Victorian African Health Action Network) and Vicky Saputra (Living Positive Victoria).
Education, social barriers, mobilisation, prevention, economic disparity, inclusion, inequality, preparedness, marginalisation, messaging, stigma, community engagement, discrimination and spirituality were among the many and varied issues debated by the panel relating to the impact of COVID-19 on HIV in Victoria’s CALD communities.
We commend this event which is available to view in its entirety here:
Victorian Health Minister, The Hon Martin Foley MP told the Community Launch that ‘Now More Than Ever’ reminds us that support, treatment and care for people living with HIV is a priority.
“We know for some people living with HIV [that] experiences such as isolation, stigma, mental health and wellbeing, and financial hardship have been amplified by the pandemic,” Minister Foley said.
“For people with HIV, it has been critical that during this time they stay in touch with health practitioners, maintain treatment routines and are supported to have other health and care needs met.
“No one should be disadvantaged in the Victorian health system because of their HIV status, or because of diversity, and today is about reminding all communities that HIV is still here, that it is treatable, and that undetectable equals untransmissible.”
Addressing the 2020 World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast, Federal Health Minister, The Hon Greg Hunt MP announced more than $6 million in new funding for HIV including:
up to $1.5 million to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) for workforce development
up to $750,000 to the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AVIL) for new projects aligned to the key priority areas of the National Strategies, and
up to $1.4 million to the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) for projects including a Hepatitis B Primary Care Referral Pilot Pathway.
“Our 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,” Mr Hunt said.
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