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Question: Supporting Aids Health Care in SA

1 December 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Health on the topic of World AIDS Day.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day, a day to raise awareness about issues surrounding HIV and AIDS and a day to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died. According to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, there are an estimated 29,000 people currently living with HIV in Australia. Since 2016, notifications of HIV have declined by 37 per cent. This decline has been attributed to beneficial interventions in prevention, diagnosis and treatments.

In Adelaide, people living with HIV can access a number of services, in particular through the O'Brien Street clinic. Earlier this year, it was announced that the O'Brien Street clinic would be relocating the services to a new location. The O'Brien Street clinic provides health services for more than 250 HIV positive patients, plus many more with complex health needs. The service is discreet and conveniently located. A report, along with recommendations, I understand, has been submitted to CALHN by Professor Judith Dwyer regarding the relocation of these services. My question to the minister therefore is:

1. What are the latest approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment for HIV and AIDS in South Australia?

2. Can the Attorney-General, representing the health minister, provide an update on the relocation of the services of the O'Brien Street clinic?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question and acknowledge the important role that he has played in the community in his advocacy, not just at a state level but previously at a local government and at a federal government level. I know the honourable member has advocated in areas of HIV prevention in terms of funding for sexual health services and treatment, so I acknowledge the leadership the Hon. Robert Simms has taken in this area. I will be most pleased to pass his questions on to the health minister in another place and bring back a reply.


Reply received on 7 February 2023:

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:

1. The South Australian public health response to HIV is guided by the National HIV Strategy, a framework for a coordinated national approach to this important public health issue building on decades of successful partnerships between government, community, clinicians and researchers.

The South Australian government remains firmly committed to achieving the goals and targets of the National HIV Strategy, including the elimination of HIV transmission in South Australia by 2030. Thanks to scientific advances and the tireless efforts of health workers and community organisations, this goal is now not only realistic but within reach.

In recent years, the rollout of HIV preventive medications (PrEP) has contributed significantly to reducing transmission. It is estimated that around 1,500 South Australians were prescribed HIV PrEP during 2022. Uptake continues to increase on the back of concerted efforts to expand our network of PrEP prescribing clinicians, and to educate the community on the importance of this and other HIV prevention strategies.

Secondly, reducing time to diagnosis and treatment initiation is also key to Australia's HIV elimination efforts. To this end, there has been continued innovation in diverse and accessible testing models. In South Australia, members of the community may access rapid and self-testing options, in addition to visiting their GP or sexual health clinic.

Finally, being on treatment enables people living with HIV to reduce their viral load to an undetectable level. This concept, known as 'U=U', not only enables people living with HIV to enjoy a long, healthy life, it also means they cannot transmit their infection to their sexual partners. Thanks to community mobilisation as well as investment in patient-centred models of care and support services, the majority of South Australians living with HIV are on treatment and 'undetectable'.

2. The Central Adelaide Local Health Network is currently considering new locations for the practice.

An O'Brien Street practice relocation planning group has been established to oversee the move to a new location. This group includes O'Brien Street patient representatives and the practice's senior medical practitioner, as well as representatives from other government and non-government service providers.