NSW’s leading HIV prevention and HIV support organisation, ACON, has warmly welcomed the release of the latest quarterly NSW HIV Data Report from the NSW Ministry of Health, which has seen the lowest rate of new HIV notifications since 1985.
According to the Report, there were 101 new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in NSW in the first six months of 2017, and this is the lowest since 1985 when HIV surveillance began.
New HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in NSW continued to fall, marking 12 months of steady decline and is 25% less than the average of the previous five years.
The report also shows there was a 39 per cent drop in the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV where they had acquired it within the previous 12 months of infection compared to the same period over the past six years (46 down from 76). This is a strong indication that new transmissions are becoming less frequent.
The quarterly data also indicates that earlier diagnosis through increased testing, greater reach and earlier uptake of treatment, and improvements in access to PrEP are all contributing to changing the prevention landscape in NSW. ACON and a range of other partners have been working hard to design, build and deliver new responses to HIV, with strong leadership from the NSW Government.
“The data released today showing the lowest count in HIV diagnoses since the early days of the epidemic clearly indicates that we’re starting to get results from our collective efforts to ending HIV transmissions in NSW. This shift in approach and the adoption of a range of new systems and technologies appears to be impacting on HIV transmissions, which is very encouraging,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.
“We now have a more comprehensive range of evidence-based prevention technologies available to gay and bisexual men, the population group at most risk of HIV transmission, and that’s extremely exciting.
“Not only does this include condoms and new biomedical tools such as PrEP, but also the advances in treatment for people living with HIV that see viral loads suppressed to an undetectable level, meaning that transmission is virtually impossible.”
HIV testing rates continue to remain high, with 286,626 tests being performed across NSW in the first half of 2017. However, the number of people diagnosed late with HIV has remained stable, meaning there are still people with undiagnosed HIV in the community.
“There are still a number of people being diagnosed late with infection, and HIV diagnoses among people born overseas have remained stable. This means we must ensure gay and bisexual men continue to test more and more frequently, and that we continue our efforts with communities where more outreach and messaging is needed,” Mr Parkhill added.
“Gay and bisexual men in NSW have consistently shown that they’re committed to ending HIV and have adopted the use of these new technologies as soon as they have become accessible. We still have a long way to go but we’re heading in the right direction.
“By continuing to promote testing and using new biomedical technologies through an integrated and coordinated approach, we’re very optimistic that the HIV transmission data will continue to trend downward, and we’ll move closer to our collective goal of virtually ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020.
“We thank the NSW government for its commitment in leading the way for a contemporary Australian response to HIV, and the ongoing advocacy and dedicated work of our sector partners. Let’s strengthen our efforts and keep up this momentum by staying safe, testing often and treating early.”
For more information please contact:
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications Officer
E: [email protected] T: +61 (02) 9206 2044 M: +61 (0)428 477 042