Health Minister Lawrence Springborg launched a two-year plan of action by Queensland Health, developed in association with the Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (MAC).
“The strategy will deliver preventative programs, voluntary testing, initiatives to encourage people living with HIV to get treatment and how the stigma associated with HIV will be addressed,” Springborg said.
Healthy Communities’ new executive director John Mikelsons told Queensland Pride he was pleased the MAC invited representatives from HC to the strategy launch in Townsville.
“I think the targets they’ve set in the strategy to halve HIV infections by the end of 2015 are ambitious [but] fantastic and a demonstration of the clear commitment that the Minister has to reducing HIV infections in Queensland,” he said.
Mikelsons said the strategy contained relatively recent innovations, such as rapid testing, in which HC already participated through the regular Tuesday night Testing Point clinic for HIV/STIs at HC’s resource centre in Teneriffe.
“We’re really pleased about the introduction of rapid testing and pleased about our role in the roll out of that in our Testing Point clinic,” he said.
The new strategy also points to treatment as prevention in a bid to reduce the viral load in the community, which Mikelsons described as a positive step.
“They also talk about a comprehensive prevention strategy that’s community based and we think a community based strategy is also a positive step forward and we stand ready to work with the government on that.”
Mikelsons said HC was ready to undertake a new way forward in its relationship with the Health Department and that HC had a “bright future”, one that was “intrinsically linked to the aspirations that the government has for our community”.
“HIV is a significant health issue that affects our community, particularly gay men,” he said.
“We share common purpose with the government about reducing HIV infections and we want to work closely with them on exactly that goal.
“Apart from that, we’ve got a bunch of other programs that we deliver that are funded in a range of different ways and we intend to keep working really hard on issues that affect the health of our community into the future.”
HC has a stall at Fair Day on September 21, and Mikelsons invited people to come to New Farm Park to meet him and the HC staff. “I look forward to saying hello to everybody on the day,” he said.
You can read the Queensland HIV strategy 2013-15 here.
IMAGE: Healthy Communities' executive director John Mikelsons. Photo: Anthony Smith