NACCHO recognises importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week and 2019 World

TheNational Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) recognisesthe importance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) andthe 2019 World AIDs Day to draw attention to the increasing impact of sexuallytransmitted infections (STIs) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

In Australia, it has beenrecorded that the cases of new HIV diagnoses amongst Australians represent a declineof 23% in the last five years. However, the HIV notification rates within the Aboriginaland Torres Strait Islander population in 2018 was more than twice the rate forthe Australian-born non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Source: Kirby Institute

Australiais perceived on the global stage as a world leader in HIV prevention and treatment.But considering the high prevalence of this issue in Aboriginal and TorresStrait Islander communities, NACCHO understands there is still some way to go.

NACCHOthanks the Government for their ongoing support for people with HIV, BBV andSTI's with the additional funding announced to six national peak organisations,of around $3 million for 2020-21.

"Exposureto STIs differs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our women arediagnosed with HIV, STIs and BBVs at a greater rate than other Australian womenand are facing infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous preterm birth orstill-birth," said Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO who spoke at the 2019parliamentary World AIDS Day breakfast this week.

"NACCHO believes this requires greater recognition andcommitment from all levels of government to work collaboratively acrossportfolios and mainstream organisations. A good example is the currentpartnership between the Commonwealth Department of Health and NACCHO to addressthe syphilis outbreak, which has been extraordinary! It highlights innovationin science and the great work done on the ground by Aboriginal health workers."

Dr Casey said, "There is nobetter way to provide healthcare than through the 145 Aboriginal CommunityControlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), who deliver holistic, culturallysafe, comprehensive primary healthcare across Australia, including those livingin very remote areas. Studies have shown that ACCHOs are 23% better atattracting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients thanmainstream providers. If funded adequately ACCHOs are thesolution to addressing the increasing rates of STIs, BBVs and HIV/AIDS."

South Australian Health andMedical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Head, Aboriginal Health Equity-SexualHealth and Wellbeing, A/Prof James Ward said, "ATSIHAW has grown bigger, with132 ATSIHAW events to be held by 73 organisations across Australia this year -mostly in ACCHOs. ACCHOs have embraced ATSIHAW wholeheartedly and this has beenkey to ATSIHAW's success. Community engagement has been pivotal to the improvementsin Australia's HIV response and it's time to focus on getting HIV rates down inour communities."

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