The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) originated in the early 1980s when a group of Darwin gay men became aware that many of their friends in other Australian cities and overseas were rapidly dying from an unknown disease. The disease was known as the “gay plague” and eventually described as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome” (AIDS).
In 1985, the Northern Territory Health Department’s Centre for Disease Control formed the AIDS Community Advisory Group (ACAG) and, through local contacts, liaised with the gay men. These men formed the AIDS Action Committee and regularly met with the intention of incorporation and applying for government funding. In November 1985 this group advertised its intention to incorporate in the NT News on Melbourne Cup Day in the hope that very few people would see the notice and object.
In April 1986 the NT AIDS Council was incorporated as a “broad-based community group to fight the spread of AIDS” and was advised in late December 1986 of funding to provide services. Mr. Sim Lee was the inaugural President. NTAHC established an office and began with one staff member whose purpose was to provide services to people with AIDS and provide information and education as a way to halt the spread of the disease.
The Council has grown from strength to strength since its establishment in 1986 with a staff of one person. In the early 1990s many people were dying from AIDS because, at this time, drug treatments were experimental, and the Council provided domestic and personal support. The Council pushed social barriers and reached out to the most marginalised groups within Australian society who were being affected by AIDS. It had direct links with Darwin gay men, the local sex industry and to Aboriginal people affected by AIDS. Later it reached out to intravenous drug users and established needle and syringe programs (NSP) to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis, and other blood borne viruses (BBV).
By 2003, the Council had embraced the work of fighting other blood born viruses and changed it's name to the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council Inc.
It had established offices in Alice Springs following merging with the Central Australian AIDS Action Committee, and is currently the Northern Territory's only non -government organisation working specifically in the area of blood borne viruses. It continues it work with Aboriginal people ,sex workers, people who inject drugs, and any other populations that are identified as being at risk of blood borne virus transmission.
NTAHC celebrates 30 years of incorporation in April 2016.