Jul 24, 2023, 12:40pm EDT

Sydney is on the verge of eliminating HIV

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The News

Inner Sydney — once at the center of Australia’s AIDS epidemic — is now on the verge of eliminating local HIV transmissions, marking a world-first if successful. Australia is also on course to become one of the first countries to end the HIV epidemic.

New infections have fallen by 88% in Sydney’s inner neighborhoods between 2010 and 2022, according to data presented at the International Aids Society’s HIV science conference on Monday. The city only detected 11 cases last year.

We’ve curated reporting and insights about how Sydney has achieved this milestone and where the country can still make progress.

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  • Government-led initiatives like testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) campaigns have played a significant role in HIV reduction. People in inner Sydney have quick and easy access to testing and consultation sites. But the same resources are not available universally, and some suburbs of Sydney are not seeing the same levels in reduction, and in some cases are seeing increasing rates. Most people now living and transmitting HIV in Australia are those in immigrant communities. — ABC Australia
  • Aboriginal Australians still face greater barriers when it comes to HIV prevention, according to the University of New South Wales. 2022 saw an increase of HIV rates among Aboriginal communities, in part due to disrupted healthcare sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health experts told The Guardian in 2019 that officials can mitigate the crisis by featuring more Aboriginal men in ads and have Aboriginal elders endorse the campaigns.
  • Australia’s government is mulling dropping restrictions against HIV-positive people from receiving visas. Australia remains just one of 40 countries that still complicates permanent residency for HIV-positive people, whereas countries like the U.S. got rid of those barriers more than a decade ago. Advocates say that the visa requirements are not only discriminatory and violate human rights laws, but have also contributed to transmission because many immigrants don’t want to test themselves in fear of losing residency. — SBS News