Australian Government Considers New HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign
The Australian government is considering launching a new HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in light of the increasing number of cases of the disease, Health Minister Tony Abbott said on Thursday, the AAP/Age reports. According to Abbott, the health department has asked the Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis to recommend how to reduce the number of new HIV cases after learning that about 1,000 Australians are contracting the virus annually, up from 650 in 2002. Council Chair Michael Wooldridge recommended a "carefully targeted awareness campaign," Abbott said, adding, "And certainly that's something that I am carefully considering in a budget context." The council also called for a campaign to teach youth about the dangers of unsafe sex and sharing needles. Abbott made the announcement on the 20th anniversary of the country's "Grim Reaper" HIV campaign, which used scare tactics to curb the spread of the virus. Bill Bowtell, past president of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations and a developer of the Grim Reaper campaign, said the country should implement a campaign with the same hard-hitting impact that the Grim Reaper campaign had. According to the AAP/Age, the Grim Reaper campaign received some criticism for its scare tactics. Bowtell said that many people "have got into a sense of very false security that [HIV/AIDS] was somehow 20 years ago, and nothing could be further from the truth." Abbott said the "important thing" in implementing the new campaign will be to "ensure that people in the affected groups know that it's important to act in ways that are likely to keep them safe" (AAP/Age, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.