The number of new HIV cases in Australia remains the highest for 20 years, according to the Annual HIV Surveillance report released today at University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute Annual Surveillance Symposium.
Last year 1,235 new cases of the virus were diagnosed and reported across Australia, continuing similar rates from 2012 when there were 1,253 new infections.
While the rates in the past two years have remained stable, the number of cases detected in 2013 represents a 70% increase over the number of people in 1999, which was when diagnoses were at their lowest.
There are now an estimated 26,800 people living with HIV in Australia.
And about one in seven Australians with HIV do not know they have the virus, according to estimates in the report.
There are large numbers of people continuing to be diagnosed late. Around 30% are diagnosed well after they should have started treatment to restore their damaged immune system.
“In some cases, people are living for several years without knowing they are HIV-positive,” says the Kirby Institute’s Associate Professor David Wilson.
“This is a double concern: for their own health and that they could be passing the virus on to others.
“If people wait a long time before getting diagnosed, or if they do not start treatment once diagnosed, it is not as easy to recover.”
Victoria recorded a 16% increase in HIV notifications and the largest increase in cases in 2013 (365 cases, up from 314 in 2012).
No area has a long-term decreasing trend but some states are starting to experience stabilising trends.
The report shows around 60% of people with HIV were on treatment which restores their immune system and reduces the risk of spreading the virus.
“This is higher than almost anywhere else in the world and a great achievement,” said Associate Professor Wilson.
“In comparison, around 25% of people with HIV in the United States are on suppressive therapy.”
Here’s the Kirby Institute HIV statistics by state:
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