Incidence of HIV diagnoses among Australians have reached their lowest in almost two decades, according to a new report released this week.
The findings published by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney revealed HIV diagnoses have dropped by 23% over five years.
Head of Kirby Institute’s Surveillance, Evaluation and Research Program Professor Rebecca Guy said “more people are being tested for HIV than ever”.
“People living with HIV are starting treatment earlier and we’re seeing a very promising uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among gay and bisexual men,” Ms Guy said.
“The combination of all these strategies has led to these reductions.”
‘PrEP’ is prescriptive medication that HIV negative people can take daily to prevent the transmission of HIV.
Head of Kirby Institute’s HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program Professor Andrew Grulich said PrEP has “turned the HIV epidemic in gay and bisexual men around in this country.”
The report also found however that in the same five year period, HIV rates among heterosexual men had remained relatively stable.
QUT Guild Vice-President for Gender and Sexuality Max Fox says while he is “absolutely thrilled” for the decline in general HIV rates, he shares “concern with others that a similar decline has not been seen in heterosexual or indigenous peoples
“Knowing your status is not something to be ashamed of,” Mr Fox said.
The QUT Guild implemented free on-campus RAPID STI testing for students last semester. Mr Fox said the initiative encourages people to get tested “when it would otherwise fall lower on their priority list”.
Both QUT Medical Centres have LGBTQIA+ friendly doctors that specialise in Queer and women’s health, including the prescription of PrEP.
QUT Medical Centre manager Leonie O’Keefe said that the practices are committed to having safe and trusted relationships with students regarding sensitive health topics such as contraception, unplanned pregnancies and sexual health.