Kirby Institute’s annual report card on HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) has revealed a marked decline in the HIV transmission rate.
The Kirby Report also shows Australia is close to achieving global targets for the testing and treatment of HIV, but more needs to be done to identify and treat infections early.
Head of Kirby Institute’s Surveillance Evaluation and Research Program, Associate Professor Rebecca Guy said more than a quarter of people in Australia diagnosed with HIV last year had substantial damage to their immune system, indicating they had likely contracted their infection years ago.
“Every year that a person delays being diagnosed is a year that they miss out on treatment to help maintain healthy immune function, and a year that they are at higher risk of passing on the virus to their sexual partners,” Associate Professor Guy said.
“If we’re going to end HIV, we will need to maintain and strengthen the established strategies of testing, treatment and prevention, as well as increasing the use of new technologies such as pre-exposure (PrEP) to prevent infection.”
Burnet Institute, Alfred Health and Monash University are collaborating on a ground-breaking project that is testing the success of PrEP in reducing the transmission of HIV in Victoria.
Burnet’s Head of HIV Research, Associate Professor Mark Stoové said PrEP is a proven intervention to add to the HIV prevention toolbox.
“While we need to turn off the tap of new infections and PrEP is a proven intervention to add to this prevention toolbox, we need to continue to push for access to antiretrovirals for all people living with HIV,” he said.
The report also showed:
- Deaths related to chronic hepatitis C virus infection have increased 146 per cent in 10 years and uptake of treatment remains extremely low.
- There are declining rates of hepatitis B infection diagnosis, probably as a result of Australia’s immunisation programs.
- Chlamydia remains the most frequently reported notifiable infection in Australia with the majority (78 per cent) of diagnoses among 15-29 year olds.
- Numbers of new gonorrhoea diagnoses continue to increase substantially and are the highest in a decade. Increased testing may explain much of this increase.
- Number of cases of syphilis in 2014 was the highest since record keeping began around 10 years ago.
CLICK HERE to access the Kirby Report.