The latest data showing a continued decline in HIV transmission rates in NSW has been welcomed by the state’s leading HIV prevention and HIV support organisation, ACON.
The ‘NSW HIV Strategy Data Report – Quarter 1’ shows that in the first three months of 2019, there were 22 per cent fewer HIV notifications compared with the average for the same period over the past five years. This builds on previous data reports that show a decline in HIV transmissions.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says this downward trend demonstrates ongoing efforts to reduce HIV transmissions are working.
“The combination of high testing rates, easier access to PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis], greater uptake of HIV treatment and continued condom use are all contributing to a decline in HIV notifications in NSW,” he said.
Among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), 52 were diagnosed with HIV in NSW from January to March 2019. Of these, 17 were Australian born MSM, which is 48 per cent fewer compared with the same period over the past five years. This marks the lowest rate of new HIV infections among Australian-born MSM since 1985.
However, 35 overseas born MSM were diagnosed with HIV from January to March 2019, which is a four per cent increase compared with the average over the past five years.
“Unfortunately, we’re not seeing a similar decline among gay men and MSM who are born overseas,” Mr Parkhill said. “This means we must continue our efforts to engage overseas born gay men and MSM in HIV prevention, education and testing programs.”
HIV testing rates remain relatively high in NSW, but 27 (52 per cent) newly diagnosed MSM had not had a test in the past 12 months, and a further nine (17 per cent) had never had an HIV test prior to their diagnosis.
“While our communities continue to test often, there are still a number of people that are not getting tested for HIV or are delaying getting tested,” Mr Parkhill said.
“Testing is key to reducing HIV transmission in NSW, because if people don’t know their HIV status, they can’t improve their health or take action to prevent transmission.
“Getting tested is quick, free and convenient, and we commend gay men across NSW for taking action. Let’s keep up the momentum of staying safe, treating early and testing often.”