Is it really possible to end HIV? One Australian state moves closer to this goal

For many cities and countries around the world, the goal of ending HIV by 2030 has been an ambitious but unrealistic target. But the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is on track to accomplish just that – and to do so by 2025, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The data shows a total of just 178 new HIV cases in 2021 in New South Wales, which is the lowest number on record and a 36% decrease over the previous five years.

“What we are seeing in New South Wales is globally unique,” ​​Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV epidemiology and prevention program at UNSW’s Kirby Institute, told the newspaper. “The world is watching what NSW is doing. The decline is real, but it has been accelerated by COVID-19 restrictions. »

Although HIV testing decreased during COVID-19, especially in 2020, it increased again last year. Likewise, as lockdowns end, more people in the state have also started PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, pills, or injections that prevent HIV.

The largest declines in new HIV diagnoses have been seen among Australian-born gay men and those living in cities. In order to eliminate HIV in the state, Grulich said, more emphasis will be placed on “reducing infections among young foreign-born males and people living in the outer suburbs of Sydney and the NSW region. “.

“HIV is becoming a heterosexual infection,” HIV advocate Ruan Uys told the newspaper. “It’s important for heterosexuals and bisexuals to get tested. Migrants, the international student community – these communities really need to know that we have support here for them.

Eliminating the HIV epidemic does not necessarily mean achieving zero HIV diagnoses. Many cities, countries and municipalities come up with their own definitions for ending the epidemic.

In the United States, for example, the federal initiative “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” aims to reduce new HIV rates by 75% by 2025 and 90% by 2030. This would represent less than 3,000 cases of HIV per year. year. “Reducing new infections to this level,” according to the initiative, “would essentially mean that HIV transmissions would be rare and meet the definition of the end of the epidemic.”

To learn more about the US initiative, read an overview on HIV.gov and visit the official webpage at HRSA.org. For a related POZ article, see “Plans to End the HIV Epidemic at Home and Abroad”.

Similarly, the recently updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2022-2025 also aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% by 2025 and 90% by 2030, but defines different objectives and strategies to achieve these targets. To find out more, see the section “What’s new in the update of the national strategy for the fight against HIV/AIDS?” »

Globally, many cities around the world are participating in an international HIV initiative called Expressway Cities in which municipalities aim to achieve the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people living with HIV know their status; 90% of people who know their HIV status are on HIV treatment; and 90% of people taking drugs reach an undetectable viral load).

Recently, the targets were updated to aim for zero new diagnoses and zero AIDS-related deaths. To learn more and see a list of cities and their associated data, visit Fast-TrackCities.org. In related news, see “Podcast Series Tells Unique Stories of HIV in Fast-Track Cities”, “NYC First US Fast-Track City to Achieve 90-90-90 HIV Targets” and “How did 12 US cities do to meet their 90-90-90 HIV targets?”


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