Australia recorded the lowest number of HIV diagnoses in 2018 since 2001. The Kirby Institute reports only 835 new cases. However, the figures leave no room for celebration with no decline in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Rates of infection in heterosexuals also remained static.
The Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney released the report today. The reported figures represent a decline of 23% in Australia over five years. They indicate Australia continues to lead the world in HIV prevention.
Professor Rebecca Guy, head of the Kirby Institute’s Surveillance, Evaluation and Research Program, called the reduction very encouraging.
“Although we’ve seen reductions in recent years in some Australian states, in 2018 we saw significant reductions at a national level.
“The decline in HIV diagnoses is a result of the incredible commitment from government, healthcare, community and research sectors to eliminate HIV transmission in Australia.”
Professor Guy said those partnerships resulted in more people tested for HIV and people living with HIV starting treatment earlier.
The uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP] among gay and bisexual men also contributed to the decline.
Reductions in the number of HIV diagnoses attributable to sex between men had the biggest impact on the decline.
Over the past five years, HIV diagnoses reduced by 30% among this population.
Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Kirby Institute said the figures indicated the effectiveness of PrEP.
“The introduction of PrEP in Australia… has turned the HIV epidemic in gay and bisexual men around in this country,” said
This is the lowest number of annual diagnoses since 2001, when there were 780 notifications.
QUEENSLAND AT A GLANCE
Queensland saw 246 HIV notifications in 2014. That figure then decreased each year until the end of 2018.
On 2018 there were 181 notifications, a drop of 65. That represented a 26.5% decrease in the number of HIV diagnoses over 5 years.
However, the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV notification figure remains the same as five yrs ago at 34.
From a community perspective, we require an increased focus on culturally targeted sexual health education and investment for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI, Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities.
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