Progress towards the HIV and Mobility in Australia: Priority Actions

by Daniel Storer | Community Engagement and Policy Analyst, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

The HIV and Mobility in Australia: Road Map for Action reviews current programs and activities that respond to HIV acquired overseas and sets out a research and action agenda for migrant and mobile populations. It is intended to create discussion, and support advocacy efforts, policy and practice to help Australia reach its goal of ending HIV transmission by 2022.

While the Road Map outlined 71 strategies across national jurisdictional stakeholders to create movement on policies in relation to HIV, four years on, the HIV and Mobility in Australia: Priority Actions, released in 2018, highlights six priority actions from the Road Map. The six priority action areas are:

  • Local solutions: plan and implement jurisdictional responses to HIV in migrant and mobile populations
  • Health literacy: increase HIV health literacy with an emphasis on combination prevention strategies
  • Test: address barriers to HIV testing and make new testing technologies widely available
  • Treatment and prevention: advocacy for a policy mechanism to provide HIV treatment and PrEP for people ineligible for Medicare
  • Inform: uniform surveillance data reporting for migrant and mobile populations
  • Monitor and evaluate: develop indicators to evaluate HIV programs for migrant and mobile populations

So, in the short time since the publication of the 2018 report, how far have we come? Not far enough, but some good progress has been made.

Late November 2018 saw the listing of Australia’s first HIV self-test device with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The device is available online through the manufacturer’s website, state and territory AIDS Councils and public sexual health clinics. While this is a welcome development against the priority actions, there is further advocacy required to expand the availability of the device so that those who can benefit from this technology can more easily access it, including migrant and mobile populations. As the priority action area of ‘Test’ explains, expansion of this device’s availability to multicultural organisations along with research to explore the effectiveness of this intervention in these community-based settings is needed.

Progress has also been made against the priority action area of ‘Inform’. Work has been conducted between state and territory health departments, the Kirby Institute and relevant community-led organisations to create greater uniformity in how HIV notification data is reported and quarterly reports on national HIV notification data are now available. Although there is currently a lag in the data available, the Kirby Institute published the first National HIV Quarterly Report for quarter two of 2018 earlier this year. This begins to address timeliness of HIV notification data as highlighted in the priority action area, but so far falls short of state and territory reporting on priority migrant and mobile populations.

The advancements that have been made in such a short time are something to be celebrated. These advancements assist to progress work to reform other areas in relation to addressing HIV transmission among migrant and mobile populations. There are still many activities against the priority actions that need to be addressed in order for Australia to meet its goal of ending HIV transmissions by 2022.