In Papua New Guinea, 1500+ women die every year from childbirth-related causes – 80 times higher than in Australia. And these deaths are, mostly, preventable.
UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and Fast-Track commitments are presented as precursors to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, through effecting a 90% reduction in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths from 2010 levels (HIV epidemic control). Botswana, a low to middle-income country with the third-highest HIV prevalence, and Australia, a low-prevalence high-income country with an epidemic concentrated among men who have sex with men (MSM), have made significant strides towards achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. These two countries provide lessons for different epidemic settings. This paper discusses the lessons that can be drawn from Botswana and Australia with respect to their success in HIV testing, treatment, viral suppression and other HIV prevention strategies for HIV epidemic control. Botswana and Australia are on target to achieving the 90-90-90 targets for HIV epidemic control, made possible by comprehensive HIV testing and treatment programmes in the two countries. As of 2015, 70% of all people assumed to be living with HIV had viral suppression in Botswana and Australia. However, HIV incidence remains above one per cent in the general population in Botswana and in MSM in Australia. The two countries have demonstrated that rapid HIV testing that is accessible and targeted at key and vulnerable populations is required in order to continue identifying new HIV infections. All citizens living with HIV in both countries are eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) and viral load monitoring through government-funded programmes. Notwithstanding their success in reducing HIV transmission to date, programmes in both countries must continue to be supported at current levels to maintain epidemic suppression. Scaled HIV testing, linkage to care, universal ART, monitoring patients on treatment over and above strengthened HIV prevention strategies (e.g. male circumcision and pre-exposure prophylaxis) will all continue to require funding. The progress that Botswana and Australia have made towards meeting the 90-90-90 targets is commendable. However, in order to reduce HIV incidence significantly towards 2030, there is a need for sustained HIV testing, linkage to care and high treatment coverage. Botswana and Australia provide useful lessons for developing countries with generalized epidemics and high-income countries with concentrated epidemics.
TM is a recipient of an Australian Government PhD scholarship. MH, MS and SMC are the recipients of National Health and Medical Research Council fellowships. The Burnet Institute receives support from the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Programme.