HIV

HIV cells

Introduction

It has been more than 30 years since the first HIV diagnosis in Australia. From the early days, monitoring of HIV has provided vital information to inform Australia’s public health response and has underpinned many successful prevention strategies. HIV surveillance helps us to know what is working well and where we need to do better.

The most recent data shows us that the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Australia has remained stable for the past five years, with 1,013 new diagnoses in 2016. Male-to-male-sex continues to be the major HIV risk exposure in Australia, reported for 75% of diagnoses in 2016, followed by heterosexual sex (20%).

It is estimated that there were 26,444 people living with HIV in Australia in 2016. Of these, an estimated 89% were diagnosed by the end of 2016, 95% were in care, 86% were receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 93% of those on treatment had an undetectable viral load, which reduces the risk of onward HIV transmission to virtually zero.

You can explore the HIV data from Australia in the interactive graphs below.

Scroll down to read the interpretation of the data and to download the full version of the report.

What's new in 2016?

What does this mean?

HIV diagnoses have remained stable in Australia during the past five years, and the epidemic is largely concentrated among men who have sex with men. The initiatives to promote and improve access to testing have achieved a higher uptake in this population. However, some groups are still more likely to be diagnosed late, such as people born in a country with a high prevalence of HIV, and heterosexual men and women. The number of people with HIV on treatment has increased, which has also led to an increased in suppressed viral load. The risk of transmission from someone with suppressed viral load is virtually zero.

Harm reduction strategies to minimise HIV transmission among people who inject drugs have been highly successful and must be sustained. Extremely low rates of HIV transmission from mother to newborn have been observed in Australia, reflecting successful comprehensive medical interventions.

The incidence of HIV among women involved in sex work is among the lowest in the world, due to highly successful HIV prevention for this priority population, which must also be continued.

Overall, these data highlight the need to strengthen strategies of testing, treatment and risk reduction, but also to expand pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) access to people who could benefit from this prevention strategy and strengthen the focus on prevention in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

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