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.

Priorities for preventing a concentrated HIV epidemic among Aboriginal Australians

Priorities for preventing a concentrated HIV epidemic among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

James S Ward, Karen Hawke and Rebecca J Guy
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 56. || doi: 10.5694/mja17.01071
Published online: 2 July 2018
Greater efforts are required to prevent human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) escalating among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Recently released national data highlight a 33% increase in new HIV diagnosis rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, from 4.8 per 100 000 population in 2012 to 6.4 per 100 000 population in 2016. In the same period, newly diagnosed HIV rates among Australian-born non-Indigenous people decreased by 22% (from 3.7 per 100 000 population in 2012 to 2.9 per 100 000 population in 2016).

Gonorrhoea: Drug Resistance in Australia

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), 26 June 2018

There has long been concern globally about the potential emergence of drug resistant STIs. In response, the World Health Organisation released new treatment guidelines for three common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis – in 2016.

At present, strains resistant to first line treatment of syphilis and chlamydia are not common and not a concern in Australia. There is, however, a growing level of concern about gonorrhoea. This paper therefore focuses on the likelihood and implications of the emergence of drug resistant cases of gonorrhoea in Australia. It also highlights treatment options in Australia and current and emerging strategies for preventing drug resistant gonorrhoea.

Download paper: AFAO Brief – Gonorrhoea – Drug Resistance in Australia – 26 June 2018

Recording of sexual assaults in Australia reaches eight-year high

Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 28th 2018

The number of sexual assault victims increased by 8 per cent across Australia from 2016, reaching an eight-year high in 2017, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

ABS Director of Crime and Justice Statistics William Milne said that there were almost 25,000 victims of sexual assault recorded by police in 2017.

“This is the sixth consecutive annual increase in the number of victims recorded for this offence and the highest number recorded since the time series began in 2010,” he said.

More than four in five sexual assault victims were female (82 per cent or 20,556 victims).

Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status, 2017

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Last updated: 15 June 2018

The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status  aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the most recent indicators of the health and current health status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The initial sections of the Overview provide information about the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, population, and various measures of population health status. The remaining sections are about selected health conditions and risk and protective factors that contribute to the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These sections comprise an introduction and evidence of the extent of the condition or risk/protective factor.

The annual Overview is a resource relevant for workers, students and others who need to access up-to-date information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Accompanying the Overview is a set of PowerPoint slides designed to help lecturers and others provide up-to-date information.

Media release from SHINE SA: Teen Pregnancy

SHINE SA, Issued: 25 May 2018

Following the release of the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing’s Report, that includes the latest figures on teen birth-rates, SHINE SA believes that a decrease in the teen birth-rate as indicated in the report, is a positive outcome from the study.

“A decrease may reflect better sexual health information for young people including education in schools, and better access to sexual health services”, said Dr Amy Moten, Coordinator, Medical Education at SHINE SA.

“Increased access to Long Acting reversible Contraception for young people, as promoted by Family Planning Alliance Australia, is also a significant factor in reducing teen pregnancy rates”, Dr Moten said.

Low socio-economic status can be a marker of poor health outcomes overall. This increases with remoteness from metropolitan areas and Indigenous status. This has been shown in previous studies and also is supported by national data regarding cervical screening that shows that low socio-economic and Indigenous status reduces the rate of screening compared to people from a higher socioeconomic areas.

Social determinants of health are linked to social and economic factors that influence health. Young people from a lower socioeconomic area are likely to have poorer health literacy, lower levels of education and poorer access to health services including contraception. These have all been shown to be linked to an increased birth rate over all ages. Barriers to access health and contraceptive services such as cost and availability of these services increase with distance from metropolitan areas.

“Generally, teen mums often face increased stigma about being a parent and should be supported in their decision to continue parenting”, Dr Moten said.

“At SHINE SA, we provide pregnancy testing, counselling and advice. When a young person is pregnant they can discuss their options and be referred to appropriate services. For a young person continuing to parent we would refer them to the Metropolitan Youth Health Service for example, which has a Young Parenting program”, Dr Moten said.

SHINE SA believes that young mums should be supported to continue their education as completing secondary school after pregnancy has been shown to improve long term outcomes in both mother and child.

Dr Amy Moten, Coordinator Medical Education, SHINE SA
Issued: 25 May 2018