A rise in HIV infections in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales has prompted a call for the revitalisation of the Federal Government’s HIV/AIDS strategy.
The 2002 figures show HIV infections rose by 20 per cent in Queensland and seven per cent in Victoria, while figures yet to be finalised for New South Wales are also up.
The executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Don Baxter, says the three states make up almost 90 per cent of Australia’s cases.
“This is a major wake-up call for Australia.
“This is the first time we’ve had rises in those three big states since 96′, ’96, when we first started having effective treatment.
“So, I think this is a major shift.
“A new trend in the epidemic has become evident.”
The federation says reasons for the rise include declining government funding, declines in HIV testing and rises in sexually transmitted infections and unsafe-sex practices.
Mr Baxter says the Federal Health Minister, Kay Patterson, must release a review of Australia’s national HIV/AIDS strategy that she received last November.
“I think some in the Government think the problem’s fixed.
“The Commonwealth and the state governments need to restore their leadership in the epidemic.
“They need to focus their — and the public — attention on it.
“There needs to be some extra funding, but it’s not really a question of funding.
“They should just stop trying to force Hepatitis C into the funding as well, because that’s just to the detriment of both epidemics.”