NSW records lowest HIV number

Published: August 31, 2011

New HIV infections in NSW in 2010 were the lowest since HIV testing began in Australia.

The data, released by NSW Health, found only 305 new diagnoses of HIV in 2010 – down over a hundred compared to 2004 when 407 were diagnosed.

Of the 305, 230 were attributed to sex between men, compared to 235 cases in 2009 and 246 in 2008.

NSW Health AIDS & Infectious Diseases acting associate director, Darryl O’Donnell, said that NSW Health was committed to achieving an ongoing decline in annual HIV notifications.

“Regular HIV testing, particularly for those who have a higher risk of contracting HIV such as sexually active gay men, raises awareness about risks, enables early diagnosis and treatment of people who are infected, and helps prevent further transmission,” O’Donnell said.

Of the gay men with new infections only 39 per cent had been tested in the year before becoming infected, compared to the 72 percent of HIV negative gay men who had tested in the year prior to taking part in the Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey this year.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill welcomed the 2010 figures which he said continued the trend of overall stability in HIV notifications seen in NSW since the late 1990’s.

“We know that NSW is one of very few places in the world that has not seen a resurgence in HIV notifications among gay men over the last decade or so and it’s a tribute to gay men in NSW that it continues to be the case,” Parkhill said

“This is actually the lowest number of annual cases recorded among gay men in NSW since HIV testing began and we are committed to working with the NSW HIV prevention partnership and our community to ensure that stability turns into sustained decline.”

“At the end of the day, it’s the collective actions of gay men which will determine how quickly we get there and we will continue to provide the information gay men require to make informed decisions about pleasure and risk.”

Parkhill said it was crucial that all sexually active gay men test regularly for HIV and other sexually transmissible infections.

“We recommend that sexually active gay men get tested at least once a year and more often if they’ve been busy. Knowledge of your own status and that of the guy you’re with gives you control. A sustained high rate of HIV/STI testing among gay men is essential if we’re to drive down HIV transmission rates.”

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