You are here

By the numbers

The Kirby data is in and — while there’s plenty to be pleased about — there are some areas of concern.

New rates of HIV diagnoses in 2016 followed a familiar pattern, hovering around the thousand mark — 1,013 to be precise. That’s according to the Kirby Institute’s Annual Surveillance Report, which monitors Australia’s sexual health. Of those 1,013 positive diagnoses, 70 percent of transmissions (712) occurred primarily through male-to-male sexual contact, while heterosexual transmissions (209) accounted for 21%. Drilling the total down state by state: NSW recorded 317 HIV diagnoses; Victoria 312; Queensland 195; WA 92; SA 42; NT 23; Tasmania 19; and ACT 13.

Of the estimated 26,444 people living with HIV in Australia in 2016, 89 percent knew their status and — of those diagnosed — 86 percent were on treatment. Of those on treatment, 93 percent had acquired an undetectable viral load. Meaning, Australia is fast on its way to achieving the 90-90-90 target.

However, the Kirby report does throw up some concerns:

  • Based on CD4 counts, a third (33 percent) of the diagnoses were recorded late — i.e. transmission occurred at least four years prior to testing.
  • HIV notifications recorded among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016 reached 46. While the number is low, it represents an increase of 33 percent since 2012. (During the same period, rates of HIV among Australia’s non-Indigenous population decreased by 22 percent.)
  • With PrEP trials rolling out in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, 2016 saw a total of 7,266 gay and bisexual men on PrEP — while that’s a forward step, it’s equivalent to just 6 percent of the estimated number of HIV-negative gay and bisexual males in Australia.

Among the better news contained in the Kirby report, harm reduction strategies to minimise HIV among people who inject drugs continue to be highly successful; as do biomedical interventions to minimise mother-to-baby transmissions. And the incidence of HIV notifications among Australia’s female sex workers also remains extremely low — among the lowest in the world.

So to summarise, HIV diagnoses in Australia remain stable. More men who have sex with men (MSM) are testing than ever before. Treatment coverage has increased considerably over the past five years, with a corresponding upswing in the number of positive people recording undetectable viral loads. And while consistent condom use among MSM has declined in recent years, more are embracing non‑condom‑based prevention strategies such as serosorting, strategic positioning, TasP and PrEP.

In a nutshell: the latest Kirby findings on HIV highlight the need to maintain successful strategies of testing, treatment and prevention. The report also shows a need for greater PrEP access and a strengthened focus on prevention programs targeting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.


latest news

May 9, 2018
The federal government's budget details were released last night. Here's a community response.
March 29, 2018
We’re not talking about recovery parties here, but the post-recovery recovery when the festivities have ended.
March 21, 2018
The world has lost one of the most respected scientists in the field of HIV/AIDS, Professor David Cooper.
March 21, 2018
The cost of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is to be drastically reduced from 1 April
February 12, 2018
The annual awareness day on 9 March is aimed at encouraging women to test for HIV.
January 22, 2018
Once again, 9 March commemorates the National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia. 
November 30, 2017
On a trip to Bali, David Menadue discovered that it pays to be clued up about travel insurance.
November 30, 2017
Armistead Maupin talks to Steven Petrow about 1970s San Francisco, AIDS and ageing.
November 30, 2017
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Read the story behind the icon.
November 29, 2017
They are the all-too forgotten minority: heterosexual men with HIV. Here are their stories.
November 29, 2017
In 2018, researchers will explore a number of approaches that might bring an end to the need for treatment.
November 29, 2017
As people with HIV get older and live longer, they become vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. 
August 22, 2017
A decision to subsidise PrEP has been deferred, much to the disappointment and frustration of HIV advocates.
July 26, 2017
Results from an Australian study show that HIV-positive men on treatment cannot transmit the virus.
June 22, 2017
Why is an easily curable disease once believed to be on the wane in Australia out of control?