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International News

Australia: AIDS Rates Rising in Indigenous Communities: Report

August 26, 2005

AIDS diagnoses among indigenous Australians more than doubled from 2000 to 2004, and HIV diagnoses were not far behind, according to an annual HIV, STD and viral hepatitis surveillance report released Thursday. In response, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) urged that a safe sex education campaign be tailored specifically for Aboriginal communities.

AIDS diagnoses among indigenous persons jumped from 1.5 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 3.6 in 2004, and HIV diagnoses increased from 3.7 per 100,000 to 5.2 in the same period. In comparison, in the broader population, HIV diagnoses rose from 4 per 100,000 people to 4.7 in the period, and AIDS diagnoses actually decreased among the non-indigenous, from 1.2 per 100,000 people to 0.8.

In addition, whereas HIV transmission in the non-indigenous population was predominantly between men, for indigenous persons it was just as likely to occur heterosexually.

The report follows a recent West Australian study that found Aboriginal women were 18 times more likely to have HIV than non-indigenous women, said professor Frank Bowden, chairperson of the federal ministerial committee on AIDS. Where "life expectancy for an Aboriginal male is 20 years lower than a non-indigenous male -- that's a crisis in anybody's language. We don't need to add HIV to that mix."

"It is important that HIV/AIDS is seen as an important, integral part of the health needs of people in Aboriginal communities, just as it is for the rest of the population," said AMA President Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal. "We need to have much more culturally sensitive and specific messages and ways of delivering those messages, which should be developed with the communities themselves," he said, which requires particular funding if the initiatives are to succeed.

Back to other news for August 26, 2005

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
08.25.2005; Melissa Polimeni

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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.
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