Health Minister announces ban on HIV home testing lifted
The seventh National HIV Strategy has launched with a bang with Health Minister Peter Dutton unveiling government plans aimed to end new HIV infections by 2020.
As part of the strategy, the ban on home HIV testing kits will be lifted, and HIV medication will be made available at chemists rather than just only hospitals.
"We know that there are Australians living with undiagnosed HIV," Dutton said.
"Home self-testing provides an additional testing option that complements current options and allows people living with HIV to learn their HIV status and seek appropriate treatment and support.
Dutton said the Therapeutic Good Administration will now consider home-based testing kits.
"If they meet Australia’s rigorous standards and are approved will be able to be sold direct to consumers," Dutton said.
From July 1, 2015, antiretroviral drugs subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be made available from pharmacies and not just hospital pharmacies.
"The Australian Government has committed $16.2 million over four years to improve patient access to HIV antiretroviral therapies in the community," Dutton said.
"Previously, patients were restricted in where they could access these medicines. The changes mean that these medicines can now be dispensed through a pharmacy of the patient’s choice, including community pharmacies, regardless of where they were prescribed.
"This better reflects the desire of many Australians to receive care in the community rather than a hospital," Dutton said.
Rob Lake, Executive Director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations said the measures outlines in the strategy sends the strong message the government is committed to the goal of ending HIV transmissions by 2020.
"The primary goal of ending new HIV infections by 2020 is a strong target, and one embraced by all members of Australia’s HIV partnership," Lake said.
"This strategy, and its target of a 50% reduction in transmission and a dramatic uptake in HIV treatments require a strong commitment from us all.
"We must support additional prevention options as well as condom use, make treatments better and simpler and preserve the gains in legal and human rights protections that have brought us globally acknowledged success in limiting the impact of HIV in Australia.”
The Minister also announced that a new hepatitis C medication is being considered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. The medication is the first in a group of new anti-retroviral medications for people living with chronic hepatitis C.