Queensland’s HIV diagnosis rates doubled in ten years: Springborg acts on urgent health reform

Minister for Health
The Honourable Lawrence Springborg

Queensland’s HIV diagnosis rates doubled in ten years: Springborg acts on urgent health reform

The LNP government has moved quickly to address an alarming rise in HIV diagnosis rates across Queensland with the announcement it will create a Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS to review and redirect awareness and prevention campaigns.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said annual HIV diagnosis rates had doubled in the last decade: from 2.7 per 100,000 population in 2000, to 5.4 in 2010.

Mr Springborg said the HIV diagnosis rates represented an alarming failure in public health policy and public health outcomes over the last decade; and said he had been advised the diagnosis rates represented the highest levels in Queensland since figures became available in 1984.

“When it comes to health, unlike Labor, I refuse to throw good money after bad and I refuse to turn a blind eye to what are obviously ineffective campaigns at reducing HIV diagnosis rates,” Mr Springborg said.

“This clearly indicates that the campaigns and strategies, and the way those campaigns and strategies have been provided, is in need of urgent review and re-direction,” he said.

Mr Springborg said he would immediately move to re-direct over $2.5 million in government grants that had, until now, been channeled through the Queensland Association for Healthier Communities to conduct AIDS/HIV awareness and prevention strategies.

“Instead of this funding being administered by QAHC, which has published its intention to move the core of its activity away from AIDS/HIV to more general, political issues, it will be moved into the control of an expert panel – a Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.

Mr Springborg said the United Nations had recently set a target to reduce HIV/AIDS

transmission rates by fifty per-cent by 2015; and that the Australian Government had

committed to even higher targets.

“That’s why I will be guided by a peak body, the Ministerial Advisory Committee that is

exclusively focused on health advocacy and health outcomes in this area just like the former Queensland Aids Council used to be” he said.

“When the Queensland Aids Council was wound up by the former Labor Government, I cautioned then that the focus of AIDS/HIV would be lost and public health compromised; and I was right,” he said.

Mr Springborg said the Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS would be formed in the coming months when funding for QAHC programs ceased.

In time it was possible that the Advisory Committee may recommend some programs be

funded through a non-Government organisation that had, as its primary focus and goal,

HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

Fast Facts:

* Annual HIV diagnosis rates have more than doubled in the ten years from 2000 to 2010 from 2.7 per 100,000 population in 2000, to 5.4 in 2010;

* A new expert Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS will guide prevention and

awareness strategies

* In 2010 there was an estimated 3400 people with HIV living in Queensland;

* There will be no cut to resources for HIV/AIDS strategies; current grants will simply be re-directed away from QAHC to Queensland Health under the guidance of the expert Ministerial Advisory Committee;

* QAHC will be given three months notice, under the terms of its Service Agreement;

* Through Queensland Health, taxpayers have provided QAHC with over $2.5 million

annually in grants.

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