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South-East Asian holidays are spreading HIV in Australia, Queensland health officer says

South-East Asian holidays are spreading HIV in Australia, Queensland health officer says

The chair of the Australian Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS of Queensland has said frequent travel to South-East Asia is pushing the infection rates.

Darren Russell, who coordinates the Australian State’s policies on the disease, said: “A lot of the guys are cashed up, single and they head overseas for leisure and go into Bali, the Philippines and Thailand.

‘There are risks of acquiring HIV there, because holiday-makers tend to do things they normally wouldn’t do in Australia.’

The Queensland Government is going to spend more than $1.1 million (£650,000) on the initial step of its E.N.D. H.I.V. campaign.

The campaign, which launches today (14 July), is going to be one of the first to adopt a ‘whole of population’ approach.

Previous campaigns were addressed to certain clusters of population, like LGBT people. But now the new one is aimed at preventing the infections among straight people as well.

In Queensland, 207 people were diagnosed last year, with 195 the year before. The rates doubled between 2000 and 2010.

‘For the first time, the Queensland trend has crossed the line, meaning that the Queensland rate is higher than the Australian average – that’s never happened before,’ Russell said.

He then added frequent travel to South-East Asia is pushing the infection rates.

Russell conceded that previous campaigns ‘possibly stigmatised – back in those days, in the 1980s – gay men and people with HIV because we didn’t know a lot about it.

‘Having learnt a lot and moved on, a fear-based campaign isn’t really going to work now.’