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Matter of Interest: Fast Track Cities Program

22 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: This afternoon, I rise to speak about Adelaide's membership of the Fast-Track Cities network. The Fast-Track Cities initiative is comprised of a global network of cities and councils around the world, supported by the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Human Settlement Programme and the City of Paris.

The Fast-Track Cities initiative was launched in the City of Paris on World AIDS Day in 2014, and since then it has grown to include 276 cities worldwide, including Adelaide. Fast-Track Cities are committed to an ambitious set of targets that are outlined in the Paris and Seville Declarations to end the HIV epidemic. These targets are:

to ensure that 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their status;

to ensure that 95 per cent of people who know their HIV positive status are on antiviral therapy; and

to ensure that 95 per cent of people on antiviral therapy are with suppressed HIV viral loads.

Fast-Track Cities benefit from a range of supports, including:

capacity building for clinical and service providers, community-based organisations and affected communities;

technical assistance for health departments on data generation, monitoring and reporting;

implementation planning for key stakeholders;

eliminating HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings; and

assessing quality of life among communities of people who are living with HIV.

The Paris Declaration was signed by the then Minister for Health and Wellbeing, the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC, at the opening night of Silhouettes: Fashion in the Shadow of HIV/AIDS at the David Roache Foundation House Museum on 29 January 2022, making Adelaide the third Australian city to join this important network. I do want to recognise the Hon. Stephen Wade's leadership in that regard. I recognise that he has since resigned from this chamber.

The International Association of Providers of AIDS Care are partnering with the South Australian Mobilisation and Empowerment for Sexual Health service (SAMESH) to advance the Fast-Track Cities objectives in Adelaide. Thorne Harbour Health, previously the Victorian AIDS Council, and SHINE SA have been working together to deliver the SAMESH sexual health service in South Australia since 2015.

I had an opportunity to meet with Carolyn Gillespie, the Director of Services at Thorne Harbour Health, and Thomas Jessup, the LGBTI Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Analyst at Thorne Harbour Health, last week to discuss the Fast-Track Cities program, and I would like to acknowledge the work that has been done by them and others in this space. I understand that SAMESH provides support, education and training about sexual health and HIV for men who have sex with men and people who live with HIV, as well as services for the broader LGBTIQ community in South Australia.

SAMESH runs a number of programs designed to prevent new HIV infections. One such program worth highlighting in this chamber is Rapido, Adelaide's first ever rapid HIV testing service. This service offers free, less confronting testing experiences for gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, including trans and gender diverse people. The service is peer led—that is, the people who are administering the service are trained individuals who identify as gay, bi or trans themselves. The test involves a simple finger prick and, as a result, an outcome is produced in just 20 minutes, which is a pretty remarkable innovation to have available in this state.

Another program is the CONNECT project, which provides free HIV self-testing kits. Participants are required to answer a few questions and provide a mobile phone number where a code can be sent to access a free HIV self-test. Participants can access the self-testing kits from CONNECT vending machines either by entering the code from their phones or by scanning a QR code. While HIV diagnoses in Australia have hit an all-time low and the country is in sight of eliminating HIV transmissions by 2030, now is not the time to take our foot off the accelerator.

The Greens will be closely monitoring the progress of the state government in terms of HIV elimination and ensuring that we achieve the objectives of the Fast-Track Cities program. We certainly recognise the significance of South Australia and Adelaide signing up, and it is incumbent on us to ensure that the resources and the leadership follow.