The global fight against HIV has received a substantial fillip with a $20 million pledge by the NSW Government to establish a National Institute for Virology, incorporating UNSW's National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR).

Premier Morris Iemma announced the funding this week to help establish the new $120 million state-of-the-art facility to be located within the St Vincents Hospital precinct on land provided by the Sisters of Charity.

The facility will bring 300 of the nation's top scientists working on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) under the one roof.

"NSW researchers are at the forefront of work in HIV treatment, prevention and vaccination," Mr Iemma said.

"This work is vital to the global effort to fight this terrible disease, with 45 million people living with HIV worldwide and 16,000 new infections every day."

UNSW Vice Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer said NCHECR is a world class research centre that has been at the forefront of the global battle against HIV and other sexually transmissable diseases for over 20 years.

"This is a far reaching initiative that will have immediate benefits to NSW both in terms of the quality of care and the expansion of an important world class research base.

"The initiative is important nationally and internationally in finding more effective ways to combat HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."

The new Institute will be led by NCHECR director Professor David Cooper.

NCHECR predicts an increase in HIV diagnoses in Australia after a steady decline from 1985-1996 with the 2007 figure being a 65 percent increase from what was apparent in 1996.

"This increase varies greatly across our states and it illustrates quite clearly that this is a community issue requiring a combined medical, research and community response," Professor Cooper says.

It's hoped final funding for the new Institute will be one-third by Government, with the balance provided by private philanthropy and UNSW.

Media Contact: Steve Offner | 9385 1583 |