Paul Martin, the Executive Director of Healthy Communities who is forced to face defunding from Health Minister Lawrence Springborg, writes about the current HIV statistics and the challenges facing the Queenslanders LGBTI community.
Healthy Communities has been deeply concerned about the increase in HIV over the past 10 years, with rates per 100,000 populations rising from 2.7 in 2000 to 4.7 in 2010. As the first organisation to respond to HIV in Queensland back in 1984, we are keenly aware of the impact of HIV on the lives of people with HIV, their friends, families and communities and the importance of HIV prevention.
We had already written to Health Minister Lawrence Springborg making 29 recommendations on how to improve the HIV response in Queensland and pledged our support to work with the government to implement these. The response was to defund us.
The Queensland Government spends less on HIV, Hepatitis C and STI control than any other state or territory in Australia. In 2007-08 (latest figures available) Queensland spent $2.34 per person on HIV, Hep C and STI control, compared to $3.65 in Victoria and $7.67 in NSW. One non-government organisation on its own, tasked with working with gay men, is not solely responsible for HIV infection rates in Queensland.
We all share responsibility for HIV: government, medical professions, schools, community organisations, businesses, the media, communities and gay Aussies.
The rate of HIV increase in Queensland is lower among gay men than in other population groups. Gay men make up a lower proportion of HIV diagnoses than they did 10 years ago. The rate of HIV infection in Queensland has caught up over the past 10 years to levels similar to NSW and Victoria. This is due to population changes and the ‘natural’ progression of HIV across the country. The number of HIV infections in Queensland decreased in 2011.
The prevalence of HIV among gay men in Queensland is 9% by comparison it’s 25% in San Francisco, 12% in Sydney and 10% in Melbourne.
Healthy Communities remains committed to fighting HIV by using community based health promotion and peer education, continually improving our own services and raising important public policy issues.
Executive Director of Healthy Communities