HIV diagnoses hit seven year low: Australia’s annual HIV figures released today

SourceKirby Institute at UNSW Sydney,  24 September 2018

Australia has recorded its lowest level of HIV diagnoses in seven years, according to a new report from the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney.

The report, released today at the Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference in Sydney, found that there were 963 new HIV diagnoses in 2017, the lowest number since 2010. Researchers are attributing the promising results to more people getting tested for HIV, more people living with HIV starting treatment which reduces the risk of HIV transmission to effectively zero, and an increased use of preexposure prophylaxis (or PrEP, an HIV prevention pill).

“We should be very pleased with these results,” said Professor Rebecca Guy, head of the Kirby Institute’s Surveillance, Evaluation and Research Program. “Although the declines are relatively small, the downward trend over recent years, alongside increased testing rates and enhanced national prevention strategies, mean we can be cautiously optimistic about these reductions.”

Gay and bisexual men continue to represent the highest proportion of new HIV diagnoses in Australia, accounting for almost two-thirds of all infections. “Some encouraging news from this year’s report is that we’re seeing the greatest reductions in HIV diagnoses in this population, with a 15% decrease in diagnoses in the past year,” said Professor Guy.

“This decline is good news, but there is much more work to be done. PrEP offers every opportunity to drive down HIV to low levels, but it needs to reach all people who could benefit from it. In particular we need to improve access for gay and bisexual men living outside of inner-city areas, gay and bisexual men born overseas and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander gay and bisexual men.”

Read the full story and view the report

Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign new resources

This is to let you know that Phase 2 of SAHMRI’s Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign was launched on 9 September, with new resources building on the messaging developed for Phase 1 of the campaign, which ran until March this year.

The syphilis outbreak continues in Northern and Central Australia, with over 2175 cases of infectious syphilis reported among Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and urban areas of QLD, WA, SA and the NT.  The Pilbara region in WA is the newest area with new notifications. Most cases of syphilis were found in people aged 15-29 years. Since the outbreak was declared in 2011 there have been 6 infant deaths due to congenital syphilis (3 confirmed and 3 probable).

New  resources for clinicians practising in remote communities will also be developed, promoting appropriate testing to those most at risk, including antenatal testing of women during pregnancy.
New TV commercials will run alongside our initial TV commercials aired during last year and until March this year.

To view the two new TV commercials just click the images below.
Please don’t share these until after 9 September.
The first of our new TVCs is a powerful message from community members about syphilis and the importance of testing

The second one is a shortened version of our original syphilis animation cut to fit TV advertising time and standards.

Over the next few months we will add to the scheduling of TV ads with new content as they are finalised in production.

Our campaign begins next week and will run for a year so please use these resources in your work or refer to these when talking to community.

Social Media
Social media will feature health messages by our mob, for our mob.

Once again the campaign will be strongly supported by social media, with regular Facebook posts, Divas Chat advertising and promotion on our website featuring all new video clips and infographics. The campaign promotes whole communities’ involvement in tackling syphilis as a public health issue along with other STIs, and has involved young people, clinicians and people of influence such as parents and extended family members/carers.

Young Deadly Free Clinic Posters
Healthy messages by our mob, for our mob.

Take a sneak peek below at the new Young Deadly Free posters, we are just giving you a preview but we have many more to choose from. They are available to download from our website for printing.

The project team would like to thank all the talent who have provided input to the new resources during our visits in community.

Follow Young Deadly Free on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on new resources as they're launched

Syphilis in northern communities

Source: The Saturday Paper, Michele Tydd, 8-14 September 2018

As an infectious syphilis epidemic continues to ravage northern Australia – now threatening the lives of newborn babies – Indigenous sexual health specialist James Ward is leading a campaign to help remote communities.

While the federal government committed $8.8 million this year to fight an ongoing syphilis epidemic sweeping Australia’s top end, many prominent sexual health physicians and academics claim the money is too little too late.

“Every day there are more cases, so we are not seeing a downward trend yet,” says Dr Manoji Gunathilake, who heads up a government-run health service known as Clinic 34.

Gunathilake is the Northern Territory’s only specialist sexual health physician. She says local health workers are ramping up testing as part of a fight to contain the infection, which particularly affects young sexually active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the territory. However, it seems those measures are struggling to contain the STI’s spread.

Read the full story