Currently my home town Melbourne is hosting the Australasian HIV/AIDS conference with many countries from South East Asia in attendance along with Australian and New Zealand representatives. News from this conference is that there has been a worrying 8% increase of HIV infections between 2010 and 2011. This increase has been noted to be within the gay community with significant portion within the 20-29 year age group.
ABC News Reports On HIV Infection Increase In Australia
I was interested to see that there appears to have been a change as reported in Experiences Of HIV: The Seroconversion Study in 2010. This report showed the 30-49 age group to have accounted for more than two thirds of the documented new HIV cases in the 2007-2010 time period.
There are many theories for this change of demographic with Bill Whittaker from the National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS suggesting a need for quality information campaigns increases allowing people living with HIV, as well as those at risk of infection having better understanding of options to improve health and reduce infection risk.
Expense and restrictions on access to HIV treatments as well as lack of rapid HIV testing has lead to the creation of The Melbourne Declaration, a four point plan to meet the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS to reduce HIV infection rates by 50% by 2015. These include:
- Increasing HIV testing rates by allowing rapid HIV testing thus breaking barriers of long waits for HIV test results.
- Increasing access to HIV treatments to allow earlier and economical treatments to increase individual health in addition to decreasing viral pool within at risk communities.
- Introducing pre-exposure prophylaxis to decrease risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk of infection.
- To increase partnerships and free flow of research, education and support for people living with, and at high risk of infection with HIV.
For more on The Melbourne Declaration you can listen to Rob Lake the Executive Director of AFAO (Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) interviewed here at ABC radio, as well as The Melbourne Declaration’s website here : http://melbournedeclaration.com
The 2012 Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference has also highlighted some interesting new research including a study showing milk coming from vaccinated cows could help prevent HIV from entering cells. Connected to last week’s post on home HIV testing, Dr Jade Bilardi of Melbourne Sexual Health presented a paper on the views of home HIV testing by gay men.
Her findings showed good support for home testing with most men reporting using the kits as interim testing but not replacing testing with health professionals due to the lack of testing of other sexual infections and professional expertise and support.
Two thirds of respondents reported they would not use the tests to choose sexual partners of same sero-status (sero-sorting) however a few people did report willingness to have unsafe sex if both sexual partners showed negative HIV results on rapid testing.
Aligned with the conference, Living Positive Victoria, the new name of People Living With HIV Victoria has launched its ENUF campaign. ENUF is aimed at collecting and sharing voices of stigma, discrimination and resilience in the HIV positive community. This is a great initiative and you can learn more at http://enuf.org.au
It’s been huge week in HIV news and I look forward to sharing more news and ideas with the strong drive to reduce HIV infections by 50% by 2015.
Yours in good health.