Qld AIDS Council and Queensland Health dispute over free HIV testing kits
The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) says it will run out of HIV rapid test kits if Queensland Health does not supply them soon.
QuAC says it has not received a response from the government after making a request for free kits – a claim denied by Queensland Health.
QuAC's new executive director Michael Scott told QP his organisation was taken off the rapid trial test in February, at which point Queensland Health stopped supplying kits.
“We were part of the trial from November 2012, then we were instructed in February that we would not have any more tests supplied to us as part of the trial,” Scott said.
Scott said one of the first things he did after taking over the job earlier this month was email the HIV Foundation Queensland and the Communicable Diseases Unit, which is responsible for the prevention and control of communicable diseases in Queensland.
“I said I’d like to access the rapid tests and I’d like that to happen quickly. I also added that I was running short of rapid tests and may have to turn people away if that’s not expedited.”
Scott said he did not receive a response.
Queensland Health Acting Director General Dr Michael Cleary confirmed that a request was received from QuAC on August 8 this year to be included in the free rapid testing program.
“Prior to 8 August, the Department of Health had not received any such request from QuAC,” Cleary said in a statement to QP.
“Since then, the Department has and continues to work as quickly as possible to process their application to be included in the program.”
Cleary said HIV Foundation Queensland does not receive or process the applications for the free rapid testing program.
“The claims from QuAC that they have received no response are false,” Cleary said.
“Tony Majer, CEO HIV Foundation Queensland, personally met with Michael Scott last Tuesday 19 August and confirmed the request was progressing with the Department. He confirmed their application was being processed ensuring the necessary accreditation and reporting processes are in place.”
Cleary said Scott had spoken with the department “several times” and had been told the doctor who made the application would be informed when a decision was made.
“All organisations that submit the request to be included in the program need to enter into a service agreement with the Department of Health which is a complex arrangement that takes due time,” Cleary said.
“These arrangements are currently progressing for QuAC and they have been kept informed of the process since the request was made.”
In response, Michael Scott said he had “seen no proof yet that anything has progressed”.
“Tony Majer does not represent the department, nor the [Director General’s] office – as far as I know, so I am uncertain why he would be the one relaying this information.”
Scott said QuAC provided 20 per cent of the state’s rapid tests within its once a week two-hour clinic.
He said the organisation was dipping into its reserves to fund the ongoing testing as well as fundraising.
“A number of people have made donations to us directly to [fund] rapid tests.”