Australia commits to new HIV/AIDS targets
Australia has committed to new HIV prevention and treatment targets by becoming a signatory to the 2011 United Nations’ Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. The targets include:
- reducing the sexual transmission of HIV by 50 per cent by 2015
- redoubling HIV prevention efforts by—among other things—expanding and promoting voluntary and confidential HIV testing and counselling, and provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling.
To meet these new targets, Australia will need to increase HIV testing of people at risk of HIV to reduce the pool of people with undiagnosed HIV infection and achieve earlier diagnosis.
The HIV Model of Care Implementation Plan 2010–2014, in line with the Sixth National HIV Strategy 2010–2013, identifies a number of target groups including people from (or who travel to) high-prevalence countries. This will include any men who have the capacity to travel frequently either for work or pleasure.
In 2012, there were 122 new HIV notifications in WA, 16% more than in the previous 12 months. Male heterosexual notifications rose from 26 in 2011 to 35 in 2012, a 35% increase. Most of these men acquired HIV overseas. The proportion of heterosexually acquired HIV has also increased in WA (both locally and overseas-acquired) due to various socio-economic factors including the high number of people from high-prevalence countries entering the country on temporary visas (such as those entering on subclass 457 visas to support the resources boom).
GPs are urged to offer HIV testing to at-risk patients who travel frequently to high-prevalence countries, either for work or pleasure, and to patients from countries with a high HIV prevalence.
The Department of Health recognises the need to raise awareness about the increased risk of exposure to HIV in high-prevalence countries. The Department currently funds the WA AIDS Council to promote safe sex messages to people travelling to high-risk countries. For more information visit the WA AIDS Council’s Sex in Other Cities (external site)