HIV/AIDS hasn’t gone away.

Although today HIV is a manageable chronic infection for most of the 25,000 Australians who live with the disease many still get sick and die, and for others, having HIV makes their health far more complex.

Treating an ongoing major health issue

Most HIV care is done in the community – as it should be. What St Vincent’s does is provide highly supervised inpatient and outpatient support and treatment that isn’t available this way– to patients that are high in need.

These patients are often also a high-risk to others, so proper management and treatment can make a lot of difference across the wider community.

But this work isn’t cheap.

Much of it isn’t funded by the Government and those without Medicare get no PBS support for medicines or hospital care. Even those with Medicare may not be able to afford the non-HIV medicines they need to stay healthy.

Funding to support the missing elements

The St Vincent’s HIV Future Fund supports these essential missing elements of HIV care, as well as the cost of a full time specialist nurse to assist this complex group of patients.

The specialist team also administers HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PReP, which is used to prevent HIV infection, providing free PrEP and PrEP care to around 200 patients, mostly without those Medicare and those who are unable to access or afford healthcare.

Focus on the future

Looking towards the future, St Vincent’s is working on expanding its DACS Clinic, which is a service that provides screening and management for people a risk of, or living with, anal cancer and related conditions.

The hospital runs the only such clinic in Eastern Australia and has a huge waiting list for screening. Employing additional clinicians would reduce the waiting time significantly, resulting in better care and better health outcomes for many patients.

See how community support has changed HIV/AIDS care over the last 35 years:

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