Number of New HIV Infections Rise in Australia
The number of new HIV infections in Australia rose "sharp[ly]" last year, with one state experiencing a 20% increase, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation News reports. There were a total of 700 new HIV infections reported in Australia last year. The Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations said that the increases -- 20% in the state of Queensland, 7% in Victoria and 3.8% in New South Wales -- reflected a global trend toward complacency in HIV/AIDS prevention (Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 5/29). HIV incidence rates dropped in the 1990s and then remained stable from 1995 to 1996 because of international HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Adrian Lovney, president of the AIDS Council of New South Wales, said that the rise in new infections can be attributed to changes in sexual behavior by men who have sex with men, including a decrease in condom use, according to the Morning Herald (Pollard/Pearlman, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/29). AFAO President Bill Whittaker said that incidence rates for other STDs, including syphilis and gonorrhea, are also up, and he added that HIV/AIDS is on the "backburner" in many developed countries, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. "There's a fairly good coverage of the impact of HIV/AIDS in the developing world and the tremendous toll that it's taking on countries and communities," Whittaker said, adding, "But perhaps we haven't focused on the fact that HIV is still very much a problem in Australia and one we have to be constantly vigilant about" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 5/29). The federal government conducted a review of its AIDS strategy last year, recommending new education and prevention campaigns, according to the Australian. The review has not yet been released, but a spokesperson for Health Minister Kay Patterson said that the report would be released soon. "Delivering the HIV prevention message is much more complicated today than it was in the 80s, and that's why we need a really strong and effective national AIDS strategy," Whittaker said (DiGirolamo, Australian, 5/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.