Western Australia signs up to ambitious Paris targets for ending HIV

Western Australia has made a significant commitment to push towards a community free of HIV by signing up to Fast-Track Cities global partnership initiative and its Paris Declaration, to track progress towards achieving UNAIDS 95-95-95, 2025 targets to end AIDS by 2030.

The WA government signed on to the goal as Perth marked 40 years of HIV at a World AIDS Day event in Yagan Square on Wednesday. Health Minister Roger Cook said it was an important initiative, one the McGowan government was proud to be signing up to.

“Today is about raising awareness and remembering those who have lost their lives to the AIDS epidemic.” Minister Cook said. “The HIV epidemic is at a tipping point though, both here in Australia and around the world, and there’s a real chance to end HIV infections, possibly within the decade.  That would have been unthinkable thirty to forty years ago.

Launched in 2014 the initiative currently has a goal of ensuring that 95% of people living with HIV are aware of their status, and of those who have acquired the virus – 95% of them are on medication, and 95% of those receiving medication have an undetectable viral load. One people have an undetectable viral load it is impossible for them to pass on the virus.

In recent years the advancements in treatment, and the introduction of PrEP treatment for those who do not have the virus, have made a significant impact on the number of new infections of HIV.

Roger Cook said he was proud to be signing on the agreement on behalf of all Western Australians.

“With this year’s World AIDS Day theme being ‘Forty years of AIDS – where to next?’, there could be no better response for us than signing this declaration.” Roger Cook said. “The declaration was first signed by 27 cities in Paris in 2014, and today WA joins more than 350 cities in this commitment to end HIV.”

Currently there are around 2,000 Western Australians living with HIV and in 2020 there were 73 new notifications, a reduction of the five year of average of around 88 cases. Last year nearly 95 per cent of people of people newly diagnosed with HIV commenced treatment within one month, and 92% of those people had an undetectable viral load within a year.

The Health Minister said while there had been great progress is moving towards a world where there were no new cases of HIV, the challenge of fighting stigma and discrimination for those living with the virus remained.

Lisa Dobrin, The CEO of WAAC said while the targets were ambitious, they were achievable.

“The UNAIDS 95-95-95 HIV treatment targets are ambitious, but this initiative is a huge step forward in tracking progress towards these targets and we are very excited to see it signed here in Perth on World AIDS Day 2021 for the whole of Western Australia,” Dobrin said.

“We are also extremely grateful to continue to work side by side with our funders, community, sector partners and allies and this year being the 40th year anniversary of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is even more significant and crucial to break down barriers to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and support, and to stamp out HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination wherever we see it.”

Pictured: Health Minister Roger Cook, WAAC CEO Lisa Dobrin and Chair Conrad Liveris.

Graeme Watson

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