AIDS will no longer be a notifiable health condition with cases in Queensland dropping substantially thanks to the sustained efforts of Queensland Health and community support from Queensland Positive People (QPP) and the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC).
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles attributes this shift to the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral treatments for HIV in 1996.
“In 2017, there were 12 new cases of AIDS reported in Queensland,” he said.
“Compared to the late 80s and early 90s, where there were hundreds of AIDS cases notified each year, this is a significant achievement which is largely due to highly active anti-retroviral treatments for HIV.
“These treatments lower the viral load of HIV in the blood to virtually undetectable levels, which means they do not transmit HIV to their partners.
“Research shows that people living with HIV who are on this treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not develop AIDS.”
Minister Miles said new regulation changes in Queensland will see AIDS removed from the notifiable conditions schedule.
“The objective of the notifiable conditions schedule is to monitor and respond to diseases that are considered a public health risk because the disease can spread,” he said.
“HIV is the public health risk, not AIDS, which is why we’re making changes to remove it from the notifiable conditions schedule.”
Minister Miles said this is a timely reminder for Queenslanders to stay up-to-date with regular sexual health checks.
“HIV, like many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), often has no symptoms, which is why it’s very important for all sexually active people to get regular testing for STIs including HIV,” he said.
“The sooner HIV is detected, the sooner treatment can start and the better your chances are of living a long and healthy life.
“While HIV has reduced significantly in the past three decades, it remains an important health issue in our communities, with 185 new cases reported in 2017.
“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and, coupled with condoms, continues to provide one of the most effective ways to prevent HIV.”
President of Queensland Positive People, Mark Counter, agreed, saying, “this is also a timely reminder for all those who believe they may have been at risk to be tested for HIV in order to take early advantage of these life-changing treatment regimens.”
President of the Queensland AIDS Council, Peter Black said the progress was thanks to a combination of scientific advancement and the work of groups such as QuAC and QPP in supporting the community.
“The Queensland AIDS Council welcomes this decision. While it is undoubtedly a tribute to the scientific and community response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic over several decades, there remains much work to be done to end HIV transmission in this State," Mr Black said.
The removal of AIDS from the notifiable conditions schedule is part of a suite of updates for the Public Health Regulation 2018 that also includes the addition of Rheumatic Heart Disease as a notifiable condition.
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Steven Miles