HIV infections in Queensland down but not out
Greater awareness, more testing and better treatments mean that new HIV infections have decreased slightly and AIDS is now rarely seen in Queensland.
Medical Director of Queensland Health’s Blood-borne Virus Unit, Dr Alun Richards said we have come a long way since the initial emergence of HIV.
“There were 195 new diagnoses of HIV in Queensland in 2016, a 4 per cent decrease on the previous year and 6 per cent decrease on the previous four-year average,” Dr Richards said.
“If someone is diagnosed with HIV, it means they have been infected with the virus, but with modern treatment it is very unlikely they will develop AIDS.
“With improved access to highly effective treatments known as anti-retroviral therapy (ART), as well as better support services, many people diagnosed with HIV, who follow their treatment regimen, can expect to have a near normal life span.
“As part of the Queensland HIV Action Plan 2016-2021, Queensland Health is committed to working towards the virtual elimination of new HIV transmissions in Queensland, but we still have some way to go,” said Dr Richards.
“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, for HIV has proven very effective at preventing transmission and it is likely that PrEP will prevent many new HIV notifications in Queensland as the uptake of the trial expands.
“This year we have committed to an additional 1,000 extra places to the PrEP trial, meaning up to 3,000 at-risk Queenslanders can have access to this highly effective medication.”
The theme for World AIDS Day (1 December) in Queensland is END H.I.V. and all Queenslanders are being encouraged to show their support and wear a red ribbon, and to talk to their friends and work colleagues about HIV.
“HIV is still a major global health issue and World AIDS Day aims to break down barriers and maintain everyone’s awareness about the virus and how it is transmitted,” said Dr Richards.
“This week provides a timely reminder for those people who are at a risk of infection to undergo regular testing. Testing is now easier and more accessible thanks to rapid HIV point-of-care testing introduced across Queensland. Early detection is vital - if you think you may be at risk then it’s time to get tested.”
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