Under Australia’s federal system of government, reports of new diagnoses of designated communicable diseases are made to state and territory health authorities. When acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first diagnosed in Australia in late 1982, state and territory governments enacted laws that required doctors to notify the health authority of newly diagnosed cases of AIDS. The need for national coordination of surveillance for newly
diagnosed cases of AIDS in Australia led to the establishment of the National Health and Medical Research Council Working Party on AIDS (1983-1984) and the AIDS Coordinating Unit within the Commonwealth Health Department (1985) (Whyte et al 1987, Whyte and Cooper 1988).
Following identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS and the development of antibody tests to detect HIV infection in 1985, surveillance for AIDS was expanded to include surveillance for newly diagnosed HIV infection in some health jurisdictions. In others, specific laws were enacted requiring laboratory notification of cases of newly diagnosed HIV infection.
The NHMRC Special Unit in AIDS Epidemiology and Clinical Research was established at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) in 1986 with funding from the Australian Government and assigned responsibility for coordination of national surveillance activities related to HIV and AIDS, in collaboration with the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments. It was renamed the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research
in 1990 and the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society (Kirby Institute) in 2011. The role of national coordination of surveillance for HIV infection and AIDS is specified as part of the terms of reference that accompany the contract between the Department of Health and UNSW Sydney, through the Kirby Institute.
These Standard Operating Procedures describe the activities that are carried out by the Kirby Institute in fulfilling its responsibilities in the national surveillance of HIV.