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22 April 2014 NEW MEASURES TO COUNTER BLOOD BORNE VIRUSES AND STIs The Australian Government is investing $22.45 million over four years for prevention programmes to help address increasing rates of sexual transmissible infections (STIs) and blood borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said today people with STIs were at least two to five times more likely than uninfected people to acquire HIV. In 2012, more than 230,000 Australians were living with chronic hepatitis C infection predominantly through sharing needles. More than 207,000 have hepatitis B. "These diseases are preventable," Mr Dutton said. "Thats why it is critical we strengthen our efforts, support health service providers and tailor our safe sex and prevention messages so that they actually connect with the people most at risk." Mr Dutton said the programme targets priority populations including gay and bisexual men, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse Australians, young people, people in rural and regional areas, and people who inject drugs. The Governments programme comprises the following initiatives: $7.2 million to reduce high rates of STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander priority populations, particularly in regional and remote settings. $1 million for point of care demonstration testing projects to increase the HIV testing rate by offering tests which provide rapid results. $5.1 million for needle and syringe programmes, particularly in rural and regional areas. $4.6 million to increase uptake of testing and treatment for hepatitis B among priority populations.

"The programme will also provide $4.5 million to support the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne in July 2014, including the participation of priority populations at the conference and the development of new national strategies for blood borne viruses and STI s, Mr Dutton said.

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2 "Australia has been a leader in minimising the spread of these infections and the new investment will build on this work. "The public health messages around blood borne virus and STI prevention, including safe sex, are not getting through to some groups and unless we act now the significant increases in transmission rates will only increase further," Mr Dutton said. For further information go to:
Media contact: John Wiseman - 0401 776 108