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ATTENDANCE AT 2018 INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE

Senator Singh will attend the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) this week, to pay tribute to Australian clinician the late Professor David Cooper and give a keynote address on Australia’s legacy in fighting HIV. 
 
As co -chair of the Australian Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Infections at AIDS 2018, Senator Singh will join delegates from many Australian HIV/AIDS advocacy organisations and research institutes, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the Kirby Institute, the Burnett Institute and the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.   
 
The theme of AIDS 2018 is “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges”, drawing attention to the need of rights-based approaches to more effectively reach key populations, including in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East where epidemics are growing.
 
This cuts to the heart of Professor David Cooper’s role in tackling HIV and infectious diseases across our region.
 
His dedication stemmed from the principle that health is a fundamental human right and no one would be turned away from the best options available for treatment and prevention, regardless of their social or personal circumstances. 
 
At his public memorial at Sydney Town Hall last month the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, former High Court judge and patron of the Kirby Institute, said about Professor Cooper,
 
‘We should be proud of such a scientist and of our country…but he was not ours alone.  He belonged to the world of science. Today we honour him as a global hero.’
 
David Cooper turned Australia into a global leader in the fight against HIV-AIDS, and we should be genuinely proud our commitment to human rights as the touchstone for its prevention and treatment.
 
Confirmation this year that the HIV prevention treatment pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is being added to the PBS emphasised Australia’s commitment, but is a reminder that some of the most vulnerable are still being left behind in Australia and our wider region.
 
More will need to be done if Australia is to reach the goal of no new HIV infections by 2020 – like restoring the funding and capacity to undertake critical engagement and communications activity with at-risk populations that the Liberals have cut from HIV peak organisations.
 
Extra funding, like the $53 million promised by Labor, needs to target hidden populations who aren’t being reached by current health promotion activities – people who aren’t diagnosed with or treated for HIV, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
 
Labor’s investment will improve prevention, testing and treatment for these groups through new health promotion campaigns, expanding access to testing, and partnering with primary health care providers to ensure that people who are diagnosed with HIV are treated.
 
AIDS 2018 is the largest conference on any global health issue in the world and provides a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights.
 
The conference is being held between 23 – 27 July 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  As well as addressing the David Cooper memorial event, Senator Singh will open the “‘Nothing about us without us': Advancing human rights for key populations” symposium. 
 

TUESDAY, 24 JULY 2018