In 1989, Australia became one of the first countries in the world to develop a formal strategy to address HIV/AIDS; many elements of the first strategy remain today. Australia adopted a human rights approach and prioritised mobilising affected communities, developing peer-based education, legal protection for people at-risk of and living with HIV, and a harm reduction approach regarding illicit drug use. As a result, Australia has avoided a generalised epidemic, with HIV transmission mainly concentrated amongst specific populations, gay and other men who have sex with men being the largest.
HIV diagnoses in Australia have been increasing among people travelling to and from high HIV prevalence countries. The Seventh National HIV Strategy (2014- 2017) states people and their partners who travel to or from high HIV prevalence countries, as well as travellers and mobile workers as priority populations in Australia.
The HIV and Mobility in Australia: Road Map for Action discussion paper explores the links between HIV and mobility in Australia, in particular the increase in HIV diagnoses in the last five to ten years among people travelling to and from regions of high HIV prevalence. The paper is an outcome of the Western Australia (WA) HIV and Mobility Project. The project involved collaboration between the Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research (WACHPR) and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), with support from the Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Applied Research and Evaluation Network (SiREN).
The aims of the project were to:
- identify and review current programs and activities which have been implemented to respond to overseas-acquired HIV (in Australia and similar epidemics globally)
- develop a research and action agenda for priority populations to stimulate further discussion and support advocacy endeavours.
This discussion paper presents the findings of the project and proposes a ‘road map for action’ for HIV and mobility issues in Australia. While the project was initiated in response to the changing HIV epidemiology in WA, the proposed agenda for action is of national interest.