The Enabling environment: a note from the editors

The Enabling environment: a note from the editors

HIV Australia | Vol. 12 No. 2 | July 2014

Welcome to this special edition of HIV Australia, published to coincide with the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.

2014 marks the first time that an International AIDS Conference (IAC) has been held in Australia, and ten years since the IAC was held in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last year’s ICAAP11 conference in Bangkok saw the international HIV community focus in on our region. This edition sharpens that focus – profiling community-led responses in Australia and the region, at a time when we are witnessing important new scientific developments and understandings about HIV.

This special edition is themed around HIV and the enabling environment. The strong framework of policies and laws that exist in Australia has underpinned the success of our much-lauded partnership response to HIV, involving community, clinicians, researchers and government, since the beginning of Australia’s HIV epidemic.

The edition includes analysis of the current state of Australia’s policy framework, identifying laws that undermine the enabling legal environment.

Several articles in this edition trace the history of Australia’s HIV response – from ‘medical emergency’, prompting strong community activism, to an era of focusing on treatment uptake and increasing testing rates.

Contributors ponder the fact that as people with HIV live with a chronic manageable disease, an urgency about the HIV response has stalled, highlighting a need to focus on enabling social and legal environments to address ongoing stigma and discrimination.

Other contributors outline innovative work across Asia and the Pacific, where community organisations and networks operate in social and political environments that are, in many cases, far from enabling.

We hear how the rights of people living with HIV, and communities most affected by HIV are severely impinged, undermining access to health services, HIV testing, treatment, care and support – or to simply the right to live free from persecution.

A number of articles in this edition discuss cross-country partnerships and capacity building initiatives that are strengthening community responses to HIV, nurturing emerging community leaders, and taking a successful ‘learning by doing’ approach in combating HIV.


This year’s IAC conference in Australia will see some important milestones, including a conference program
that has been driven by the involvement of people living with HIV and key affected communities at every level,
and the first ever keynote address delivered by an Indigenous person.

This special edition of HIV Australia is designed to provide a snapshot of the energy, action and innovation that exists within Australia, Asia and the Pacific. We encourage readers to network and start conversations with the people and organisations driving the work you will read about within these pages.

The AIDS 2014 edition of HIV Australia will be formally launched on Wednesday 23 July at 5.15pm in the G’day! Welcome to Australia Networking Zone in the AIDS 2014 Global Village.

Visit the G’Day! Zone to learn more about the Australian HIV response, or just to relax and network. We look forward to seeing you there!

Finn O’Keefe and Linda Forbes