Illicit Drug Users Support Call for Community Representation on Top Federal Government Advisory Committee on HIV & Hepatitis C

Illicit Drug Users Support Call for Community Representation on Top Federal
Government Advisory Committee on HIV & Hepatitis C

The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) the national peak organisation representing injecting and illicit drug users supports the call made by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations in The Age today for proper community representation on the new Federal Government advisory structure for the sector.

Ms Jackie Du Dayle, AIVL President said “some of the appointments to the newly formed Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis (MACASHH) seem to fly in the face of 20 years of experience and proven effectiveness.”

Australia has led the way internationally in responding to both HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C and subsequently has one of the lowest rates of HIV infection amongst people who inject drugs in the world.

“This has been achieved through a genuine commitment to a partnership approach including government, researchers, health care professionals and very importantly, those affected by HIV and hepatitis C. This unique approach has brought results that have been achieved in few other places in the world and it is now under jeopardy due to the lack of community representation and expertise on the main body providing advice to government on these issues” Ms Du Dayle stated.

AIVL believes there is an urgent need for a review of the membership of the MACASHH to ensure that appropriate community representatives are included. AIVL is also very concerned about the appointment to the MACASHH of individuals with no clear expertise on HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C or sexual health matters.

“Although AIVL has been offered a position on the Hepatitis C Sub-Committee of the MACASHH, we are very concerned that there is no-one representing the views and needs of people who inject drugs on the HIV Sub-Committee. Although we currently have a good track record on HIV prevention amongst people who inject we can never afford complacency on this issue” Ms Du Dayle added.

Recent research is showing that there is a massive emerging HIV epidemic across South East Asia mostly linked to injecting drug use. With such developments on our doorstep, now is not the time for Australia to change our successful and proven approach to these issues.

“We are the people on the ground. We are the people affected by HIV and hepatitis C. The Federal Government is ignoring the advice and expertise of the HIV and hepatitis C community sectors at its peril” concluded Ms Du Dayle.

For further comment contact Ms Jackie Du Dayle President on mobile: 0405 450 308.