Behaviour Trends and Challenges for HIV Prevention

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In 2012, there were 1,253 HIV notifications across the country, being a 10% increase from 2011. The same pattern is occurring in Queensland, with 206 new diagnoses of HIV in 2012, a 6% increase on the previous year.

The Gay Community Periodic Survey is one report that can give an insight into understanding how and why the rise in HIV notifications might be occurring. At the recent ASHM (Australasian Society for HIV Medicine) conference, the latest national findings of the Gay Community Periodic Survey were released and have shown some significant challenges for preventing HIV in Queensland.

One of the simplest methods in HIV prevention is using a condom every time you have sex. It seems though, in every state across the country, rates of unprotected anal sex have increased, with the largest increase being in guys under 25. Guys under 25 are also not testing for HIV as often as they used to. With these negative trends being so defined to one age group, it is apparent we need to do more to talk about the importance of good sexual health for younger people.

On a more positive note, 60% of men surveyed nationally are practicing some form of a risk reduction strategy, with the most common method being serosorting. Treatment is also becoming more common, with uptake increasing for people living with HIV, and with that an increase in undetectable viral loads. This is an important aspect towards the success of treatment as prevention and the achievement of 90% of people living with HIV on treatment, being a key outcome of the Queensland HIV Strategy 2013-2015.

In 2013, QPP coordinated the Gay Community Periodic Survey and we look forward to next year’s results. We hope that with the recent introduction of rapid HIV testing, we can offer targeted services to all priority populations.

Improving the availability and accessibility of testing goes a long way to ensuring everyone is aware of their status – so we can all take responsibility in preventing transmission, as well as improve our long-term health.

If you would like a supply of condoms posted out to you, email us at education@qpp.org.au or call 07 3013 5550.