Associate Professor Mark Stoové at the World AIDS Day 2015 Launch at The Doherty Institute
Burnet Institute Associate Professor Mark Stoové has welcomed the announcement that Melbourne is to become Australia’s first Fast-Track City, committed to reaching the Joint United Nations targets on reducing HIV and stigma and discrimination.
Fast-Track Cities pledge to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 HIV treatment targets by 2020 – which aim to ensure that 90 per cent of people who are HIV positive know their status and are on treatment, and that 90 per cent of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load.
The Fast-Track City announcement was made by Victorian Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy at the launch of World AIDS Day (WAD) 2015, with the support of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle.
“Becoming Australia’s first Fast Track City is vital for improving the health of Victorians with HIV and to achieving the Australian target of the virtual elimination of new HIV infections,” said Mr Doyle.
IMAGE: Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle at the World AIDS Day 2015 Launch at The Doherty Institute. (Photographer: Andrew Henshaw.)
Associate Professor Stoové, Head of Burnet’s HIV/STI Research Group, said Melbourne is perfectly placed to make the most of its Fast-Track City status.
“We really have a world’s best practice primary, tertiary and hospital care environment, and the research scientists in this city are world class,” Associate Professor Stoové said.
“We have an outstanding commitment from government and an outstanding surveillance system to measure our progress towards 90-90-90 targets.
“In Victoria over 80 percent of people with an HIV diagnosis have a municipal Melbourne postcode, so in terms of leveraging capacity, the idea of a Fast Track City is ideal in relation to thinking about HIV prevention.”
UNAIDS Executive Director Michael Sidibé said a Fast-Track AIDS response would facilitate access to services for other public health challenges, including tuberculosis, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, gender-based violence and non-communicable diseases.
“We can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 if the world’s major cities like Melbourne act immediately and decisively to Fast-Track their AIDS responses,” Mr Sidibé said.
On World AIDS Day, the Victorian Government also announced new guidelines on access to Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people use HIV medication to prevent becoming infected.
The new guidelines will support Victorian HIV general practitioners to prescribe off-label PrEP to high-risk individuals until it is approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Associate Professor Stoové said there’s a strong need for innovation around PrEP.
“We know that PrEP works, international trials demonstrate that,” he said.
“What we now need to know is how to best implement PrEP within our current health system and also to understand the impact of PrEP on things like other STI diagnoses and design a system whereby people have choice in prevention, whether that be using condoms, clean needles and syringes or pre-exposure prophylaxis.”