Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital - HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS

In November 1982, the first case of AIDS was diagnosed at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. By mid 1983 AIDS was declared a notifiable disease in Victoria and Dr Ron Lucas, seconded to the CDC from Fairfield Hospital recommends that Fairfield staff warn the homosexual community of the impending illness. In November 1983, Fairfield's Professor Ian Gust begins a collaboration with Dr Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris to develop tests to detect HIV infection. As a result of their success, the Fairfield Hospital Laboratory begings regular testing of Australian blood products in 1984, several months before the rest of the world.

The first patient with AIDS was admitted to Fairfield Hospital in April 1984. In October 1984 the first AIDS outpatients clinic at Fairfield Hospital opened on Friday afternoons. Twenty five percent of initial patients are found to be HIV+. During the late 1980s, admission rates to soar to 10,000 a year, as HIV infection rates continue to increase. In 1990 researchers from Fairfield Hospital publish findings from two of their studies about HIV resistance to the drug AZT during treatment. Their studies show that some people with HIV who take AZT develop resistance to the drug and then lose that resistance when treatment is stopped. They suggest that three or more drugs are needed to be used together to treat HIV effectively (also known as combination therapy).

Fairfield Hospital continued to offer care and treatment for patients with HIV and AIDS into the 1990s. In 1991, large public protests were organised against the possible closure of the hospital. However, by 1996 the majority of the hospital's HIV services had been relocated to The Alfred and Royal Melbourne Hospitals and Fairfield Hospital ceased operations.

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