Australian HIV Epidemic Continues

In Australia, the HIV epidemic continues. Just like in other high-income countries that offer high-quality, widely accessible HIV prevention, treatment and care, HIV infection rates in Australia have been steadily climbing since 1999, with the single biggest
annual jump of 10% reported in 2012.

The reason is human behavior. Optimism began to creep in when life-saving
anti-retroviral therapies (ART) transformed HIV/AIDS from a certain death sentence into a manageable, if medically complex, chronic condition from the mid-1990s.

To date, Australia has been at the forefront of global efforts to combat the HIV
epidemic since our much debated “grim reaper” campaign of the 1980s. Australia’s world-class medical researchers helped develop ARTs and have made a major
contribution to the use of ARTs in prevention, as the drugs drastically reduce the “viral load” in HIV positive people, so reduce the risk of transmission.

However, increasing risk-taking is outpacing these significant advances in medical science. In 2012 more than 1,200 new cases were diagnosed in Australia, bringing the estimated number of people living with HIV to 25,708.

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