Experiences of HIV: The Seroconversion Study: Final report, 2007 – 2015

The Kirby Institute, UNSW, July 2016

The Seroconversion Study has existed in several forms since 1992. This most recent version completed data collection in 2015. Seroconversion studies have played an important role in the Australian HIV response and are a useful research tool in understanding the current circumstances of HIV infection.

As with previous versions of the study, this one mainly targeted gay and bisexual men (GBM). However, some limited data were collected from women and heterosexual men in this current version.

The Summary of Findings includes:

  • There are multiple reasons why men avoid or delay testing in the months or years prior to their diagnosis, including the belief that they had not done anything ‘risky’, and fear of being told they were HIV-positive. Men who were less socially connected to other gay men were more likely to have avoided or delayed testing prior to their diagnosis.
  • On reflection, most men were satisfied with how they were tested and how they received their positive diagnosis.
  • Knowledge of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) at the time of their HIV infection was
    surprisingly low among these recently diagnosed individuals.
  • Few HIV infections among gay men are attributable to sex with their primary regular male partner (or ‘boyfriend’).
  • On the occasion when they believe they were infected, gay men who acquire HIV showed little evidence of the use of risk reduction strategies.
  • After diagnosis, and for some time thereafter, most gay men with HIV dramatically change their sexual behaviour in ways that would likely minimise the possibility of onward transmission.
  • Some individuals felt that their mental health had deteriorated since their diagnosis.
  • Access to peer-support after diagnosis was a key predictor of changes in sexual behaviour, disclosure of HIV status to others, and access to information.
  • The decision whether or not to commence ART by HIV-positive gay men continues to be a challenging one.
  • There was little evidence of substantial differences across the jurisdictions, except those that would be expected.
  • There was also little evidence of substantial changes over time.
Download report (PDF, 208 pages) here