Australian Government To Consider $10M Safer-Sex Campaign Following Increase in Recorded HIV Cases
The Australian government is considering a four-year, $10 million safer-sex campaign following a 41% increase in the number of new HIV cases in the country recorded from 2000 to 2005, the Daily Telegraph reports. A ministerial task force -- led by Michael Wooldridge, chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis and former health minister -- recommended the campaign (Daily Telegraph, 1/30). According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the campaign will target men who have sex with men, who account for 80% of HIV cases in the country. Wooldridge said the first step in the campaign is to research why the number of HIV cases has increased in all Australian states except New South Wales. "This is something we have given a lot of thought to, ... we think it is prudent given the rise in infections to have a carefully targeted campaign," Wooldridge said, adding, "Clearly there is a whole younger generation who are missing the message, combined with safe sex fatigue from in their 30s who are not seeing the threat (of HIV)." According to Don Baxter, executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the campaign will be cost-effective if it is targeted at the right population and will save approximately $450,000 for each averted new HIV case. Wooldridge urged the government to implement the program as quickly as possible and said that some states, including Victoria, are at risk of reporting the highest number of HIV cases since the 1980s. Although the campaign has not been developed, Health Minister Tony Abbott said it would not use scare tactics like Australia's "Grim Reaper" HIV campaign, which was implemented in the 1980s. Baxter said such a campaign would be rejected by viewers (Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald, 1/31). According to Baxter, the campaign should target MSM through the country's mainstream media. "I think one of the missing parts of our response is social marketing on mainstream media," he said, adding that because the gay community has "become more mainstream" in the last 10 or 15 years, HIV prevention messages should be directed toward MSM through mainstream media outlets. Funding for the campaign will be approved in the next budget, the Australia Broadcast Corporation reports (Australian Broadcast Corporation, 1/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.