Melbourne has been showcased at a major regional conference as a model for effective policies and programs focused on the biomedical prevention of HIV.
Burnet Institute’s Head of Public Health, Associate Professor Mark Stoové told the Asia-Pacific Regional Fast-Track Cities Workshop in Bangkok that Melbourne is ideally placed to become a world leader in HIV prevention.
“I think Melbourne is going to be a city over the next five years or so that’s recognised as a place that’s really embraced and adopted effective systems to promote biomedical prevention of HIV,” Associate Professor Stoové said.
“The strong collaborative relationship in Melbourne between government, community, research and clinical services is an important part of this.
“We’ve seen amazing shifts in shortening the time between diagnosis and viral suppression, which is going to have a major role downstream in reducing infection, but also thinking about the rapid expansion of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).”
Melbourne is one of more than 90 Fast-Track Cities globally, an initiative of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care.
Each of the Fast-Track Cities is committed to accelerate and scale up their local AIDS responses, and strengthen and leverage existing HIV-related programs and resources to attain 90-90-90 targets by:
- ensuring that at least 90 percent of people living with HIV (PLHIV) know their status;
- improving access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for PLHIV;
- increasing to 90 percent the proportion of PLHIV on ART with undetectable viral load
The Fast-Track Cities also pledge to increase utilisation of combination HIV prevention services; reduce to zero the negative impact of stigma and discrimination; and establish a common, web-based platform to allow for real-time monitoring of progress.
Associate Professor Stoové said Melbourne is in a fortunate position to benefit from an excellent health system and safety net around the provision of services that many other countries can’t provide.
“But demonstrating the epidemiological impact of this type of coverage of biomedical prevention really presents great advocacy for cities,” he said.
“They have to live within their means using the resources available to them, but it’s great advocacy for the effectiveness of these types of interventions and of involving partners and the community in the response, and having strong relationships between community, clinicians, researchers and government in informing the response.”
Find out more about Burnet Institute’s HIV research.