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New HIV Infection rates remain stable in NSW

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Data from NSW Health has shown that despite a reported South East Asian "epidemic" of HIV infiections, the Australian State of New South Wales has stabilised its rate of new HIV infections.

ACON, the leading GLBTI community health body for NSW has welcomed data from NSW Health indicating continuing stability in annual HIV notifications.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says surveillance data released today by NSW Health reported 305 new HIV diagnoses in 2010 compared with 329 in 2009.     

Consistent with the historical trend, most cases in 2010 (230) were attributed to sex between men compared with 235 cases in 2009 and 246 in 2008.

Mr Parkhill says that the outcome continues the trend of overall stability in HIV notifications seen in NSW since the late 1990’s.

“We know that NSW is one of very few places in the world that has not seen a resurgence in HIV notifications among gay men over the last decade or so and it’s a tribute to gay men in NSW that it continues to be the case,” Mr Parkhill says.  

“This is actually the lowest number of annual cases recorded among gay men in NSW since HIV testing began and we are committed to working with the NSW HIV prevention partnership and our community to ensure that stability turns into sustained decline.”

“At the end of the day, it’s the collective actions of gay men which will determine how quickly we get there and we will continue to provide the information gay men require to make informed decisions about pleasure and risk.”

Mr Parkhill says it’s crucial that all sexually active gay men test regularly for HIV and other sexually transmissible infections.

“We recommend that sexually active gay men get tested at least once a year and more often if they’ve been busy. Knowledge of your own status and that of the guy you’re with gives you control.”

Mr Parkhill says 72% of respondents to the February 2011 Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey reported an HIV test in the previous twelve months

However, among guys actually diagnosed with HIV in NSW in 2010, the reported rate of annual testing was much lower.

“A sustained high rate of HIV/STI testing among gay men is essential if we’re to drive down HIV transmission rates,” Mr Parkhill says.

The HIV surveillance data is available on the NSW health website: www.health.nsw.gov.au

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