31 August 2011
NSW HIV rates remain stable
NSW Health today announced that HIV rates remain stable, with fewer notifications in 2010 than in previous years.
Darryl O’Donnell, Acting Associate Director of NSW Health’s AIDS and Infectious Diseases branch, said HIV notification data shows that there were 305 HIV notifications in 2010, compared to 329 in 2009.
“NSW Health is committed to achieving an ongoing decline in annual HIV notifications,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“Regular HIV testing, particularly for those who have a higher risk of contracting HIV such as sexually active gay men, raises awareness about risks, enables early diagnosis and treatment of people who are infected, and helps prevent further transmission.”
Because of the higher risk of transmission, it is recommended that men who have sex with men be tested for HIV and STIs at least once a year if they have had sex with a man in the past 12 months, and every 3-6 months if they are having unprotected sex or sex with more than one partner.
The data shows that many newly infected cases had not been getting regular HIV testing. Of the gay men who were diagnosed with HIV last year, only 39 per cent had been to have a test within the twelve months before their diagnosis. In contrast, according to the Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey from February 2011, 72 per cent of HIV negative gay men who responded to the survey had been tested within the previous twelve months.
The data showed that heterosexually acquired and injecting drug use transmissions both remained low, whilst gay men continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV infection, accounting for 75 per cent of the HIV notifications.
As part of its overall approach to sexual health, NSW has supported the following initiatives:
“NSW continues to promote safe sexual health messages, and it is thanks to the dedicated work of the community and health professionals over many years that has led us to these stable rates of HIV notifications,” said Mr O’Donnell.
“NSW is acknowledged internationally as a leader in HIV education and preventative health measures, as well as providing access to quality support and treatment.”
In 2011 leaders of the NSW HIV response were invited by the Joint United Nations program on AIDS to help in strengthening prevention efforts in countries such as Canada, the UK, the USA as well as Australia.
NSW Health continues to work with ACON and other partner organisations to further reduce HIV infections and care for people who have HIV.
For referral to a GP or sexual health clinic, call the NSW Sexual Health Infoline on 1800 451 624.
HIV notification data for the last three years is:
Notification data is determined by doctors and laboratories providing numbers of new positive HIV test results to NSW Health. The data is influenced by whether people who may be infected with HIV are accessing testing services.