HIV cases experience biggest jump in 20 years: report

23 October, 2013

The number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in Australia continues to rise, having increased by 10 per cent in 2012 to reach 1253, the largest number in 20 years, according to the latest national surveillance reports.

The "HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia Annual Surveillance Report and the Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Surveillance and Evaluation Report 2013" was released at the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference 2013 by the University of New South Wales' Kirby Institute.

The Surveillance Report indicates that the number of cases of HIV infection diagnosed each year has increased annually over the past 13 years, with the largest single year increase in new diagnoses recorded in 2012.

"Some of the rise in reported HIV diagnoses may be due to an increase in testing, but better testing simply cannot explain the magnitude of these rising rates," said David Wilson, associate professor of the Kirby Institute.

By the end of 2012, a total of 34 029 cases of HIV infection had been diagnosed in Australia since the epidemic began. Between 28,600 – 34,300 people were estimate to be living with HIV infection.

"One of the biggest challenges in responding to Australia's HIV epidemic remains the estimated 10-to-25 per cent of people with HIV whose infection remains undiagnosed.

"We need to focus significant efforts on getting people diagnosed and initiating antiretroviral therapy in order to improve their health and reduce the risk of transmission in the community."