The president of ACON, Dr Justin Koonin, oversaw his second Annual General Meeting last night, heralding pivotal developments for the HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation and ensuring its outstanding governance continues into 2018.
During the AGM at ACON’s Sydney offices, Dr Koonin briefed the organisation’s members about the implementation and impact of our HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health programs throughout the 2016/17 financial year. The AGM also saw several board members re-elected as well as the release of our 2016/17 Annual Report.
This past financial year has seen one of the most crucial moments for the HIV epidemic in NSW become much more of a reality for its LGBTI communities.
“This year’s annual report sees ACON enter into its 33rd year with the future end of HIV within sight, as we mark the lowest rates of new transmissions in NSW since recording began in 1985,” ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said. “We are proud to report that our collective efforts since the launch of our ground-breaking Ending HIV campaign in 2013 are yielding results that are heading in the right direction.
“Since the introduction of one of the most significant advances in HIV prevention in recent years, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), there has been a radical change in the way we respond to HIV transmission by providing HIV negative people with this extremely effective protection from the virus.
“Our past financial year has also seen the emergence of another significant biomedical advance in HIV prevention, which has greatly empowered people living with HIV. Further recent studies, including one that is Australian-led, have shown that maintaining an undetectable viral load (UVL) prevents transmission of HIV. This is another massive step forward in our collective efforts in meeting our goal of ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020.
“We also achieved many important outcomes across all our work areas, especially in our efforts to encourage gay men to maintain high testing rates, treating early and staying safe. With more gay men testing for HIV than ever before, more people with HIV now on treatment and persistent condom use, we are well on our way to achieving our goals.”
Other highlights of the year included the continued enrolment and popularity of the Australian-first, and world-leading, EPIC-NSW study; the continued success of ACON’s peer-based rapid HIV and STI testing facilities a[TEST], and the launch of How Do You Do It?, Australia’s first combination prevention campaign.
Other work included the provision of care and support services for people with HIV; continued efforts to address LGBTI related domestic and family violence; and a national conference that explored best practice and research relating to the health and wellbeing of lesbian, bisexual and queer women, as well as women with transgender and intersex experiences.
To complement our hugely successful Pride Inclusion Programs, Pride in Diversity and Pride in Sport, this year we launched a third initiative, Pride In Health + Wellbeing - a national program designed to assist organisations in the health and human service sectors in LGBTI inclusion, delivery and provision.
Throughout 2016/17, ACON distributed over 225,000 safe sex packs, had over 21,500 client interactions, performed over 8,000 HIV and STI tests, distributed over 526,000 units of sterile injecting equipment and had over 660,000 website visitors.
Dr Koonin said he was proud and grateful to continue having the opportunity to contribute to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and people living with HIV.
“ACON is an amazing organisation that does incredibly important work in our community, especially in relation to HIV prevention and support. Given the record low transmission rate, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in the state’s response to the epidemic, with the potential to end HIV transmission in NSW in the foreseeable future. I’m confident that ACON’s dedicated staff, volunteers, members and supporters, together with partners in government, research and the community, will help us meet the challenge,” Dr Koonin said.
“I’m also looking forward helping improve the ways we support people living with HIV as well as making major inroads into broader LGBTI health issues. I’m continually amazed by the resilience and determination of our communities, and immensely proud at what we have accomplished, and optimistic about what we will achieve over the next few years.”
In terms of board members, four serving board members – Justin Koonin, Benjamin Bavinton, Julie Mooney-Somers and Louisa Degenhardt – were re-elected. They join board members Andrew Purchas, Richard Lee, Christian Dunk, Amanda Hatter, Steven Berveling and Atari Metcalf.
ACON’s 2016/17 Annual Report can be viewed on the ACON website.
Media enquiries: David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
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