Research by The Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, Australia showed that 2012 had the biggest increase in new HIV infections for twenty years.
In 2012 Australian services recorded 408 new HIV diagnoses, a 24% increase on 2011 figures – most of these were between men who have sex with men (MSM). This also comes at a time when the The Kirby Institute’s survey found that one in four gay men surveyed had engaged in unprotected with a casual partner within the last six months. The largest group for new HIV infections was 25-29 year old males.
Experts across Australia are pointing the finger squarely at a lack of public awareness surrounding HIV. Andrew Grulich an epidemiologist said “The challenge in combating HIV today is that many people no longer consider it a death sentence. For younger gay men, the once haunting figure of the Grim Reaper in Australia’s 1987 public information ads has been banished from view and the scale of lives lost to the virus is now a fading community memory.”
ACON, New South Wales’ leading sexual health promotion organisation, has released findings that 10-20% of MSM have never been tested for HIV, and they estimate that 20-30% of people living with HIV in Australia are unaware of their diagnosis. ACON are calling for ‘Home Based Testing’ (HBT) to increase the testing rates.