Australian State Unveils Strategy To Reduce by 25% New HIV Cases by 2009 With Focus on MSM
The Australian state of New South Wales this week unveiled a new three-year HIV/AIDS strategy that aims to decrease new recorded HIV cases by 25% and that focuses on men who have sex with men, the Sydney Star Observer reports. The strategy includes increasing education about how drug use can lead to risky sexual behavior, as well as improving health services for MSM in regional areas. The plan was announced as New South Wales data indicate that the number of recorded new HIV cases was reaching its lowest levels in years. According to Geoff Honnor, executive officer of People Living With HIV/AIDS-New South Wales, the 340 projected number of HIV notifications for 2006 represents a 14% decrease since 2005. The lowest number of notifications was 339 in 2001, according to Honnor. AIDS Council of New South Wales CEO Stevie Clayton attributed the projected decrease to more consistent condom use and strong collaboration among the state's health organizations. Although Clayton expressed confidence that the new strategy could decrease the number even more, she added that HIV prevention would be an ongoing challenge. While it is a "really good thing to see data produced that's showing there's a reduction in HIV transmissions, we need to stay really vigilant about it and not think that means everyone can breathe a big sigh of relief and not have to worry about safe sex anymore," Clayton said, adding, "It's really important, in the context of a decrease in the rate of transmissions, to reinforce the need for safe sex" (Gould, Sydney Star Observer, 1/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.