Can Australia be the first country to eliminate HIV transmissions?

ABC Radio National Life Matters, Monday 5 June 2017 9:06 AM

Did you know that Australia has a national strategy to reduce HIV transmission to zero by 2020? That’s a big ask and it’s only three years away.

There are currently about 25,000 people living with HIV in Australia and the number of new infections each year is down to about 1000. But it’s been stuck at that number for about five years.

This week in NSW it’s HIV testing week, a campaign which aims not only to encourage people to get tested but to normalise the idea of getting tested. Continuing stigma around HIV means that there are still too many people reluctant to get the test, even if they know they’re in a high risk group.

Guests: Darryl O’Donnell, Chief Executive of the Australian Federation of AIDS organisations (AFAO) & ‘Rachael’, a Melbourne woman living with HIV

 

AMA calls for needle and syringe programs (NSPs) to be introduced in prisons

Australian Medical Association, January 9th 2017

The AMA has called for needle and syringe programs (NSPs) to be introduced in prisons and other custodial settings, to reduce the spread of Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) including hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that prevalence of BBVs is significantly higher in prisons, yet custodial facilities provide a unique opportunity to protect the health of inmates.

A new AMA position statement also warns against making transmission of a BBV a crime, and calls for specific resourcing and management of HLTV-1, a relatively unknown BBV that affects Aboriginal people in central Australia.

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Sexually active U.S. teens, young adults not getting HIV tests

Reuters health, January 20, 2016

\Most U.S. high school students and young adults who have sex don’t get HIV tests, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On average, just 22 percent of high school students and 33 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 who report ever having sexual intercourse also report being tested at least once for HIV, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.

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For African migrants in Europe, destitution shapes sexual behaviour and HIV risk

nam, 1 December 2015

For African migrants recently arrived in France, periods without a residence permit, secure housing or enough money are very common and are associated with transactional and casual sexual relationships, especially in women, Annabel Desgrées du Loû and colleagues report in AIDS. Moreover one third of those living with HIV seroconverted after arriving in the country and the destitution experienced appears to have contributed to those infections.

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HIV rates in Indigenous communities described as a looming crisis

PM, ABC Radio,Tuesday, December 1, 2015 18:25:52

Infectious disease experts are worried that HIV rates are rising in Indigenous communities because education campaigns are having little impact.

New HIV cases among Aboriginal people are occurring at one-and-a-half times the rate of the non-Indigenous population.

Doctors say injecting drug use is becoming more common in Aboriginal communities, and many HIV-positive Indigenous people aren’t getting tested.

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Main COUNT study results about undiagnosed HIV among gay/bi men published

Journal of the International AIDS Society, 2015

The first paper from the COUNT study has been now published.

The prevalence and correlates of undiagnosed HIV among Australian gay and bisexual men: results of a national, community-based, bio-behavioural survey

Abstract:

Introduction: Gay and bisexual men (GBM) with undiagnosed HIV are believed to contribute disproportionately to HIV transmission in Australia but national prevalence estimates have been lacking.

Methods: From November 2013 to November 2014, we recruited men at gay venues and events in six Australian states and territories. Of 7291 survey participants, 3071 men also provided an oral fluid sample for testing and decided whether to receive their test results or not. We calculated raw and population-weighted prevalence estimates and identified associations with undiagnosed infection using logistic regression.

Results: Of 3071 participants, 213 men tested HIV-positive (6.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.0 to 7.8%), of whom 19 (8.9%, 95% CI 5.8 to 13.5%) were previously undiagnosed. After weighting for the size of the gay and bisexual male population in each state or territory, national HIV prevalence was estimated to be 7.2% (95% CI 6.3 to 8.1), of which 9.1% (95% CI 6.0 to 13.6%) were estimated to be undiagnosed. Compared with HIV-negative participants, men with undiagnosed HIV were more likely to report meeting partners at sex venues, using antiretroviral drugs as pre-exposure prophylaxis, condomless anal intercourse with casual partners, using party drugs for sex, injecting drugs and using amyl nitrite, crystal methamphetamine or gamma hydroxybutyrate in the six months prior to the survey.

Discussion: The results indicate that the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV is relatively low among Australian GBM but is higher among men who report riskier sex and drug practices.

Conclusions: The results underline the importance of targeted HIV prevention and frequent testing for men at increased risk of infection.

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