Two sexual health programs for LGBTI indigenous people, the Queensland AIDS Council’s 2Spirits program the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council’s Aboriginal Sexual Health, won’t be funded after June 30 this year.
Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) director Michael Scott said the 2Spirits program was important because indigenous LGBTI people did not seek medical attention with indigenous medical services due to fears of stigma.
“What we’ve found is building trust and rapport over time is what is needed,” Mr Scott told AAP.
A federal health department spokesperson said in a statement sexual and reproductive health is “primarily a state and territory responsibility.”
“The AIDS Council has been aware that since 2015 they would only get funding up to 30 June 2017, and was advised to make alternative arrangements,” the spokesperson said.
The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) said they had also been advised that their Aboriginal Sexual Health Program also won’t be funded after June 30.
“Given the high rates of STIs and blood borne viruses in the Indigenous community, this is a very disappointing decision by the Commonwealth government,” NTAHC said.
The Kirby Institute said in its Annual Surveillance Report last year that in 2015 HIV notifications among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men was more than double the rate in non‑Indigenous populations and had steadily increased in the past five years.
Rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis were also between three to 18 times higher among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community than the non-Indigenous population.
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