HIV diagnoses hit seven year low: Australia’s annual HIV figures released

Kirby Institute, UNSW, Monday, 24 September 2018

Australia has recorded its lowest level of HIV diagnoses in seven years, according to a new report from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney.

The report, released at the Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference in Sydney, found that there were 963 new HIV diagnoses in 2017, the lowest number since 2010.

Researchers are attributing the promising results to more people getting tested for HIV, more people living with HIV starting treatment which reduces the risk of HIV transmission to effectively zero, and an increased use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP, an HIV prevention pill).

However, it is not all good news. According to the report, a quarter of new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were among heterosexuals, with a 10% increase in diagnoses over the past five years.

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, HIV diagnoses have been increasing over the past five years, with rates almost two times higher than the Australian-born non-Indigenous population in 2017.

HIV incidence in Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Australia

The Lancet HIV: August 07, 2018

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(18)30135-8

Ward, J ;McManus, H; McGregor, S;  et al.

Methods

Using the National HIV Registry at The Kirby Institute at UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia, we collated and analysed annual HIV notification data for 1996–2015. Patients who were not born in Australia were excluded. We calculated the rates of HIV diagnoses with annual trends in notification rates for Indigenous versus non-Indigenous Australians by demographic characteristics, exposure categories, and stage of HIV at diagnosis. For missing data, assumptions were made and verified through sensitivity analyses. Annual rate ratio (RR) and 4 year summary rate ratio (SRR) trends were calculated to determine patterns of HIV diagnosis in the two populations.

Findings

Between Jan 1, 1996, and Dec 31, 2015, 11 492 people born in Australia were reported with a diagnosis of HIV, of whom 461 (4%) were recorded as Indigenous Australians and we classified the remaining 11 031 (96%) as non-Indigenous Australians. For exposure to HIV, among Indigenous Australians a higher proportion of diagnoses occurred among women, and through injecting drug use and heterosexual sex than among non-Indigenous Australians (p<0·0001). Among Indigenous Australians, we found a significantly higher SRR of HIV diagnoses among men in the period 2012–15 than in previous periods (SRR 1·53, 95% CI 1·28–1·83; p<0·0001), and significantly higher diagnosis among Indigenous women (4·92, 4·02–6·02; p<0·0001) for the entire study period than among non-Indigenous women. Concurrently, a decrease in HIV diagnoses of 1% per annum (RR 0·99, 95% CI 0·98–0·99; p<0·0001) across the study period was seen among non-Indigenous people. Indigenous Australians were more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage of HIV infection than non-Indigenous Australians (20·8% vs 15·1%; p=0·0088).

Interpretation

Greater efforts should be made to include Indigenous people in prevention strategies, particularly newer biomedical interventions, such as scale up of pre-exposure prophylaxis and treatment as prevention initiatives in Australia. More involvement of Indigenous Australians in these approaches is also required to prevent widening of the gap in HIV diagnosis rates between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians.

 

Barriers to HIV testing for people born in Southeast Asia & sub-Saharan Africa

Curtin University,  2017

Over the past decade Australia has seen an increase in HIV notifications among people born in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South East Asia (SEA).

People born in these regions have the highest rates of HIV diagnosis by region of birth and are overrepresented in late or advanced presentations of HIV infection.

Previous research indicates that migrants from SSA and SEA attend health services in Australia regularly, but only 50% have ever tested for HIV.

This report provides a brief overview of the preliminary results from the Barriers to HIV
testing project – a qualitative research project using focus groups and in-depth interviews to explore the barriers and enablers to HIV testing among priority communities born in SSA and SEA, to better understand the factors influencing late
diagnosis.

Australia’s Annual Report Card on STIs and blood-borne viruses

Kirby Institute, Monday, 6 November 2017

Gonorrhoea and syphilis diagnoses are increasing in Australia, HIV is stable, and more than 30,000 Australians have been cured of hepatitis C, according to the latest Annual Surveillance Report on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in Australia, released today by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney.

The latest data shows that gonorrhoea has increased by 63% over the past five years, with particular rises among young heterosexual people in major cities.

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, chlamydia and gonorrhoea rates were three and seven times higher than in the non-Indigenous population and the gaps were greater in regional and remote areas. Since 2011, there has been a resurgence of infectious syphilis among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in regional and remote areas of Northern Australia.

The report shows that HIV diagnoses have remained stable in Australia for the past five years, with 1,013 new diagnoses in 2016. However, gaps in testing remain, particularly among heterosexual people.  The report indicates that HIV diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have increased by 39% since 2012, with a greater proportion of diagnoses due to injecting drug use and heterosexual sex, compared to non-Indigenous populations.

Between March and December 2016, an estimated 30,434 people have been cured of hepatitis C due to the availability of new direct acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C.  The report also shows that only 63% of the estimated 230,000 people living with chronic hepatitis B in Australia by the end of 2016 were diagnosed. Of those, only 27% were having appropriate clinical monitoring tests for their infection. But a decline in hepatitis B diagnoses is evident in younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people, and newly diagnosed cases in the the non-Indigenous population remained stable.

Suicide accounts for 2% of deaths in people with HIV, twice the rate of the general population

nam/aidsmap, 06 April 2017

Men living with HIV have an elevated rate of suicide, particularly in the first year after diagnosis, according to a fifteen-year study of almost 90,000 people diagnosed with HIV in England and Wales, with comparison against the general population.

Suicides occurred at similar rates in gay and heterosexual men. Rates were elevated in injecting drug users, compared to other groups.

Read more here 

One in five ‘heterosexual’ men in the UK caught their HIV from another man

nam/aidsmap, 18 February 2017

A genetic analysis of a large database of people with HIV in the UK in care shows that 18% of men with HIV who claim to be exclusively heterosexual in fact belong to clusters of linked infections that consist only of men.

This provides a minimum figure for the proportion of men with HIV in the UK who are what the researchers call non-disclosed MSM (ndMSM).

These ndMSM were considerably more likely to be of black African ethnicity rather than any other ethnic background. They were also very much less likely to have had a recent HIV infection.

Read more here