Photo: NIAID.
Photo: NIAID.
New South Wales, News

New HIV roadmap aims to eliminate new transmissions

ACON, the leading HIV health organisation in New South Wales (NSW), has welcomed the state government’s new five-year strategy that aims to virtually eliminate transmission of the virus in NSW.

The NSW HIV Strategy 2021­–2025 builds on the state’s world-leading response, which in recent years has seen significant advancements in prevention, testing, and treatment.

According to data from NSW Health, the number of men who have sex with men (MSM) diagnosed with HIV in 2020 decreased by 36% compared to the average of the previous five years. 

There was also 45% drop in the number of MSM who had likely acquired the virus in the prior 12 months.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill called the data “extremely encouraging”.

The decrease in 2020 has also been driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including restricted movement, changed health-seeking behaviour, and lower levels of casual sex.

“The sustained decline in HIV notifications over the years is the result of the comprehensive and coordinated approach to HIV led by the NSW government,” said Parkhill. 

“Over the years, they have continuously exhibited extraordinary global leadership in implementing a contemporary HIV response in NSW.

“Thanks to their bold vision, we have made significant strides in preventing transmissions. 

“The previous strategy led to the wide-scale implementation of new technologies such as rapid HIV testing, the adaptation of biomedical advances such as PrEP, and fast access to treatment to those who are diagnosed with HIV in NSW.”

Parkhill said that the new strategy addresses the most pressing issues in the fight against the virus.

“Importantly, we welcome the strategy’s prioritisation of the meaningful participation of people living with HIV along with other priority populations as essential to its development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation,” Parkhill said.

Among the key actions in the strategy are addressing the barriers created by stigma and discrimination, utilising new technologies, and engaging priority populations who have not seen the same success in preventing transmissions. 

These include culturally and linguistically diverse and overseas-born MSM, young MSM aged under 25 years, and MSM living in outer Sydney and regional NSW.

“We look forward to continue working with the NSW Government, clinicians, researchers, and community, as we march towards our goal of ending HIV transmission for all,” Parkhill said.

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