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International News

Australia: HIV-Positive and They Don't Know it

September 14, 2009

Many HIV-positive gay men in Melbourne do not realize they are infected, according to a new prevalence study by the Burnet Institute. Researchers surveyed gay men at city sexual health clinics and gay social venues, enrolling 745 participants who were interviewed and given an oral swab HIV test.

Of the men, 13.4 percent were HIV-positive, including 9.6 percent of men not enrolled at the clinics. "We think that's probably a pretty reliable estimate," said Dr. Mark Stoove, who led the study. Previous prevalence estimates based mostly on self-reporting were 5-8 percent. The new survey confirms experts' long-held belief that the rate is higher, Stoove said. "This adds another brick to the wall of evidence that confirms where we think the epidemic is at."

Among the 100 men who were infected, one in five was not aware of his HIV-positive status. "They believed they were actually HIV-negative or were simply unsure of their HIV status," Stoove said. "Because men participated in this study anonymously, we cannot personally identify those with unrecognized infections. We strongly urge sexually active gay men in Melbourne to seek testing now if they have had unprotected sex since their last HIV test or have not been tested in the past six months."

Back to other news for September 2009

Adapted from:
The Age (Melbourne)
09.04.2009; Nick Miller

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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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