Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections

The Australian Government Department of Health provides leadership for the coordination of the national response to blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections through a number of national strategies and initiatives.

Page last updated: 29 November 2018

National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategies 2018-2022

On 29 November 2018, the five National Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Strategies 2018-2022 were publicly released. You can access the strategies by following the links below links.

Foreword

Australia has continued to make significant progress in addressing blood-borne viruses (BBV) and sexually transmissible infections (STI) over the period of the previous national strategies.

The National BBV and STI Strategies for 2018-2022 set the direction for Australia’s continuing response. Together they outline a framework for a high-quality and coordinated national response.

The national strategies are endorsed by all Australian Health Ministers. The ambitious targets and goals outlined in the national strategies will continue to guide Australia’s efforts to significantly reduce the transmission of BBV and STI, and improve rates of diagnosis and treatment. Importantly, they will also focus actions on improving the quality of life for people with BBV and/or STI and addressing the stigma people still experience.

The national strategies capitalise on the significant headway that has been made in recent years in our response to BBV and STI. This includes the listing of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, additional HIV treatment medicines, and ensuring the broadest possible access to new direct acting antiviral treatments for hepatitis C on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Maintaining our momentum is essential – we now have the potential to considerably advance our response across some critical areas.

The success of these strategies relies on continuing to build a strong evidence base to better inform our responses, evaluating our approaches to identify what is most effective, and further strengthening our workforce, partnerships and connections to priority populations.

These national strategies recognise the considerable work already being progressed collaboratively by governments, community-based organisations, researchers, health professionals and communities.

Despite our efforts, the strategies identify trends of concern and gaps in our response. The development of these strategies has highlighted the significant collegiality and commitment of stakeholders to strengthening our BBV and STI response. With this foundation, Australia can continue to strive to achieve great things, building on our reputation as a world leading model of best-practice.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health

PDF printable version of the Foreword - PDF 744 KB

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Eighth National HIV Strategy

Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI Strategy

Fifth National Hepatitis C Strategy

Fourth National STI Strategy

Third National Hepatitis B Strategy

The five National BBV and STI Strategies represent the commitment of Australian Governments, researchers and health and community organisations to address the impact of BBV and STI on the Australian community. Together they form a framework and agreed direction for a high quality and coordinated national response to BBV and STI for 2018–2022.

Action Plans will be developed to support the implementation of the National BBV and STI Strategies and provide the detail of more specific actions for governments and partners. The Action Plans will be developed in consultation with stakeholders.


Communique from the Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type-1 Collaborative Forum – August 2018

Human T-Lymphotropic Type-1 (HTLV-1) is a virus that occurs in diverse communities around the world and has been present among Aboriginal people in Central Australia for thousands of years. The type of the virus found in Central Australia, type C, is unique to our part of the world. Preliminary data suggests high rates of this virus in some communities in Central Australia.

Current evidence shows that infection with this virus is not likely to cause disease in a majority of people. International research shows that, in a small proportion of people after many decades, HTLV-1 causes a rare form of leukaemia and/or a spinal cord disease. Studies have suggested associations with other diseases but it is not yet known whether it causes those diseases or not. The true burden of disease of HTLV-1 in our communities needs further research.

On Friday 25 May 2018, Ministers Hunt and Wyatt announced that funding of $8 million from 2018-19 to 2019-20 will be provided to support an enhanced response to communicable diseases in Indigenous communities, including HTLV-1. Funding will be provided to determine appropriate evidence-based responses to HTLV-1 and other communicable diseases in remote Indigenous communities.

On 28 and 29 August 2018, a collaborative forum was held and included representatives from Aboriginal leaders, community and patient representatives, researchers, representatives from Aboriginal community-controlled health services, clinicians, public health officials, and representatives from Commonwealth and state and territory health departments.

The forum is the first step in determining priority activities to improve understanding of the virus, its epidemiology and appropriate public health responses.

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The forum reaffirmed the importance of Aboriginal leadership in this process and agreed on the following statement:


The department, working through the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council and its sub-committees, facilitates national policy formulation and coordination for blood borne viruses (BBVs) and sexually transmissible infections (STIs). In particular:

The Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Standing Committee (BBVSS)

The BBVSS is a key advisory body reporting to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on strategic policy, programs, social issues and activities related to HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs. The BBVSS forms part of a coordinated response across Australian Government, state and territory government, key organisations, peak bodies and national research centres for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, STIs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections.

The Australian Government further seeks advice through:

Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections (MACBBVS)

The MACBBVS is the Australian Government’s key advisory body on the national response and management of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. It is responsible for providing independent and expert advice to the Minister for Health on BBVs and STIs. MACBBVS works as an advisory structure and its key role is to provide specialist advice to inform the Australian Government’s response to BBVs and STIs, identify emerging issues and ways these may be addressed.

More information

Any BBV and STI enquiries should be directed to BBVSTITSH@health.gov.au.

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