New HIV Cases Increasing in Australia, Report Says
The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Australia has increased by about one-third during the past few years, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The report -- which is being presented at the 2008 Australasian Sexual Health Conference -- found that new HIV diagnoses increased from 763 cases in 2000 to 998 in 2006 after a period of steady decline that began in the 1980s, the Morning Herald reports (Kontominas, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10).
The Australian government in May announced that it had included 9.8 million Australian dollars, or about $8 million, in the federal budget for the development of a national HIV prevention and education campaign. A ministerial task force -- led by Michael Wooldridge, chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis and former health minister -- recommended the campaign in January in response to an increase in the number of new HIV cases in the country recorded from 2000 to 2005. The campaign targets at-risk populations, including young people and men who have sex with men. The plan also will provide funding during the next four years to develop a new media campaign, as well as to create resources for doctors, sexual health workers and schools (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/11).
New HIV/AIDS diagnoses were the highest among MSM, according to the report. New South Wales was the only state to show a decreasing HIV incidence -- 5.9 cases per 100,000 people. The number of new cases in the state of Victoria increased from 2.9 cases per 100,000 in 1998 to 5.6 cases in 2006, the report found. Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Executive Director Don Baxter attributed the decrease in New South Wales to the state's continued investment in HIV prevention programs. "Victoria started disinvesting in AIDS from the mid '90s (and) there is now general consensus that (a reduction) in funding for AIDS in Victoria has contributed to the rates being higher nationally," he added.
In addition, the report found that chlamydia remained the most frequently reported notifiable sexually transmitted infection, with 232 cases per 100,000 people, the Morning Herald reports. Most cases were recorded among people ages 20 to 29. John Kaldor, chair of the surveillance program at the HIV Epidemiology center, said general practitioners need to increase testing for the STI (Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10).