No Let Up in Australia's AIDS Epidemic: UN Report
June 8, 2006
The number of new HIV diagnoses in Australia is returning to the disturbing levels seen in the early 1990s, with 820 diagnoses made in 2004, according to a report released by the UN at the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS.
"While HIV infection levels remain low across Oceania, Australia's long-established AIDS epidemic is not dissipating. Newly acquired HIV infections, largely attributable to unprotected sex mostly between men, are increasing, which plausibly reflects a revival of sexual risk behavior," the report said.
A study cited by the report found that from 1985 to 2002, HIV notifications increased among indigenous people in Western Australia while decreasing among other groups. Indigenous women were found to be 18 times more likely to have HIV than were non-indigenous women, and three times more likely than non-indigenous men. And while injection drug use was responsible for just 2 percent of HIV infections among non-indigenous people, it accounted for one out of five infections among indigenous people.
Gabe McCarthy, president of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS, blamed the upswing on the increased number of people living with HIV/AIDS and on a climate of cultural conservatism in which many Australians are less likely to access information on safer sex.
The report noted that while new diagnoses have more than doubled in New Zealand -- from less than 80 in 1999 to 183 in 2005, prevalence remains low, at less than 0.2 percent. Rates in Papua New Guinea, meanwhile, were described as "alarming."
Australian Associated Press
05.31.2006; Tamara McLean
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.