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HIV rate rises among gay men in Australia

Rise in new HIV infections is mainly from unsafe sex among gay men, Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations suggests rapid testing
Human Immunodeficiency Virus

An 8% rise in new HIV infections in 2011 in Australia has been attributed to gay men having unsafe sex.

The data released yesterday showed that there were 1,137 new HIV cases in 2011, up from 1,051 in 2010. Rob Lake, executive director of Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations said the increase is among gay men.

‘What we do know is that we have seen a slight drop in condom use amongst gay men and to be clear, the increase we've seen is amongst gay men across Australia,’ said Lake on Radio Australia this morning.

Some of the increase is due to increased testing.

‘Australia has one of the highest rates of HIV testing in the world among gay men,’ said director of the National Centre in HIV Social Research, Professor John de Wit. ‘We see that about 60 per cent of gay men have tested in the past 12 months which means there could be a substantial number of people living with HIV who are not aware.’

Lake said his organization is looking at bringing new technology that allows rapid testing to Australian healthcare which gives results in minutes rather than a week later.

'It’s in use in most other countries and one of the things that some of those countries report is that the people who go in for rapid tests are people who haven't been in for an HIV test for sometime, so it might make that difference,’ said Lake.  

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