Australia could end HIV transmission within four years if it invested in prevention and eased regulation on testing and medicines, researchers and community leaders in the HIV sector say.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations is calling on the Morrison government to invest an additional $53 million to expedite approval and funding of testing and medicines to stop the epidemic from reaching its sixth decade in Australia.
The proposal presented to federal MPs on Thursday says it will save $1.4 billion in health costs and avert 6000 HIV cases.
It involves a mix of free solutions like making anti-viral PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) available over the counter at pharmacies and costed requests like a $12 million extension of HIV treatment and clinical care to all people with HIV, regardless of visa status.
AFAO Chief Executive Darryl O'Donnell said science and technology had outpaced regulation and Australia had become complacent.
"The big risk for Australia today is we say '900 cases is acceptable' when every case of HIV costs at least a quarter of a million dollars to the Commonwealth directly over a lifetime," he told AAP.
"Coasting is not okay in terms of the financial cost to the taxpayer but also in terms of the human cost."
Mr O'Donnell said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the threat of even a small number of communicable disease cases.
He said not investing funding or removing regulations risked buying into "a long period of cost and needless human impact."
As well as calls for investment in prevention, testing and treatment, the statement makes the case for a renewed campaign against the stigma associated with HIV.
Australian Associated Press