Browsing articles in "World AIDS Day"
10 December 2015
Shawn Clackett

Help for AIDS Fund an Investment in Health Security

By Sir Elton John. From The Australian, Tuesday 1 December 2015

When AIDS reared its ugly head in the 1980s it was the disease of the gay; a physical infection for a perceived moral imperfection. I saw dozens of my friends contract the disease and then die while the world watched on, uncertain of how to act.

As dozens turned into hundreds, then thousands and then millions, the world’s engine of compassion slowly cranked into gear.

As global apathy turned to action, my despair turned to hope – and by the turn of the millennium I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, my heart is set on seeing an end to AIDS in my lifetime.

Some 30 years on , with World AIDS Day today and before my Australian tour, I wanted to take the time to shine a light on how far we’ve come in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

After a peak in 2005, in the past decade AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 30 per cent. Much of that success is due to access to antiretroviral therapy, which particularly in poor countries has increased from 4 per cent to 40 per cent. Much of this success is because of the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

While the search continues for a cure and a vaccine, it now has been shown that early access to HIV testing and treatment helps to prevent new infections.

Since 2000, infection rates have fallen by 36 per cent in countries in which the fund works. When I look back at the change in attitude we have seen since the 80s, and the impact of action that we have seen since 2000, my heart is full of hope for an AIDS-free future.

Yet, as we turn our attention to our progress, it’s important to remember that there are more than 27,000 people in Australia, and more that 35 million people around the world, still living with HIV. There is still more work to be done.

By far the majority of the people with HIV and AIDS around the world are in low and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

AIDS, like poverty, discriminates. It disproportionately targets the poor, the vulnerable and those without access to the prevention and treatment that the disease requires.

With so much progress made, it’s important for us to maintain our focus and support.

However, it seems that our two countries are now on quite different paths in terms of the priority given to aid funding.

The British government recently legislated to maintain its aid investment at the UN recommended level of 0.7 per cent of gross national income.

In contrast, Australia aid spending is set to reach 0.22 per cent next year. This will be the lowest level ever in Australian aid although we are more hopeful with the new Malcolm Turnbull-led government which has already made some positive changes. They include appointing Steve Ciobo as Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and helping to rid the Asia-Pacific of malaria by 2030 in the recent commitment of $18 million to a new Regional Malaria and Other Communicable Disease Threats Trust Fund.

Still, this isn’t the Australia that I know. It’s the lucky country, not just because of its unsurpassable beauty but because it’s filled with people who look out for their neighbours, no matter what.

And what do these cuts mean for important initiatives such as the Global Fund and the global efforts to the end of AIDS? In 2016, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will ask donors, including Australia, for increased support for its lifesaving programs for the period of 2017 to 2019. Australia’s contribution to the Global Fund have already helped to bring about remarkable reduction in the new HIV cases, deaths from malaria and access to tuberculosis treatments, especially in the Asia-Pacific. Increasing Australia’s contribution to the fund will save lives, and is a smart investment in health security and peaceful development of fragile and vulnerable countries and regions.

When I saw the beginning of the AIDS crisis, it’s fair to say that I lost heart. But I knew that I had to help. I volunteered, I raised my voice, and eventually started the Elton John Aids Foundation. My commitment to this cause, and the commitment of people all over the world, was reflected in commitments from world leaders, and together we have seen great change.

My call now is for Australians to go and do likewise. To make your concern for your future and the future of your region known. To stand up for the great work done in your name through Australian aid. To raise your voice, and make sure that your leaders know that Australian aid is a part of what makes your country so great.

The progress that we’ve seen around the world in tackling AIDS promises a brighter future for the 27,000 Australians and the 35 million people living with HIV around the world. And you’ll play your part in that story of human progress through Australian aid.

So, are you for Australian aid? I’m proud to say I am. See you soon, Australia.

1 December 2015
Shawn Clackett

World AIDS Day 2015

Group Photo

On Tuesday 1 December 2015, Ministers, shadow Ministers and Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum came together to support World AIDS Day 2015 at a Breakfast to be held at Parliament House, Canberra.

The Ministers and Members of Parliament were joined by a wide cross-section of Australia’s HIV sector including senior experts in HIV care, treatment, education, prevention and research to hear the latest on global and Australian HIV treatment and prevention initiatives.

The Australian Parliamentary World AIDS Day 2015 Breakfast was addressed by:

  • Hon Sussan Ley MP Minister for Health
  • Hon Catherine King MP Shadow Minister for Health
  • Hon Steven Ciobo MP Minister for International Development and the Pacific
  • Hon Tanya Plibersek MP Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Senators Dean Smith and Lisa Singh, Chair and Deputy Chairof the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Professor Andrew Grulich, Program Head, HIV Epidemiology, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales
  • David Menadue OAM, Board Member National Association of People Living with HIV Australia
  • Bill Bowtell AO, Executive Director, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria


20 November 2013
Guest Contributor

ICAAP11 Opens in Bangkok

By Dr Timothy West, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund representative at ICAAP11


Representatives of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund check-in to ICAAP11 in Bangkok

BANGKOK – The 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP11) opened today at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. With a theme of “Reaching Triple Zero: Investing in Innovation”, the conference will examine the particular challenges of the Asia-Pacific context in reaching the UNAIDS vision of zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination. While these specific challenges vary greatly from country to country, common issues include the impending expiry of the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015, the need to better engage with communities at increased risk of HIV/AIDS, the importance of evidence-based policy such as early test/treat, the need for legal reform, and ethnic and sexual discrimination.

High-level presenters at the conference include Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of Fiji and Nafsia Mboi, the Indonesian Health Minister and Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. There is a diverse Australian delegation, including representatives of the Australian government and executives and staff members from organisations including ACON, AFAO and the Burnet Institute amongst others. Pacific Friends of the Global Fund is represented by Chris Puplick, advisor to the NSW Health Minister and former federal senator, Shawn Clackett, communications and administrative officer, Dr Timothy West and Dr Jeremy Law.

ICAAP occurs biennially in odd-numbered years, alternating with the International AIDS Conference, the worldwide top-level HIV/AIDS symposium. The Australian Government is a Platinum Sponsor of ICAAP11. With Melbourne hosting the AIDS 2014 conference in July 2014, the upcoming Global Fund replenishment round and the impending visit to Australia by Aung San Suu Kyi for World AIDS Day 2013, ICAAP11 is a valuable opportunity to raise the profile of Australia’s response to HIV/AIDS and to set the agenda for AIDS 2014.

Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.



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