HIV infections at close to 0% in Australia – What can SA learn

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“The aids community health threat has morphed into an HIV prevention challenge” is the viewpoint of medical epidemiologist Andrew Grulich who is head of HIV Epidemiology and prevention program at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity society, which leads the Australia’s national surveillance of HIV/Aids and is based at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney.

hiv-solutionHe also ads that Australia and a few other countries like Denmark have effectively reined in HIV infections and have eliminated AIDS deaths.  In a paper in the Lancet Infectious Disease published last May it was reported the rate of HIV infected Danish Gay Men is only 0.14% a year, or one in 700.  This rate is approaching the one per 1000 occurrence rate that was set by the World Health Organisation as the doorway for ultimately eliminating the HIV epidemic.  Even though 1000 Australians are diagnosed yearly with HIV, by receiving effective and available therapies, fewer people will progress to AIDS Grulich also said.

There are still too many people being infected with HIV, and the diagnosis is often too late, usually only after the virus has started causing illness, is the opinion of researchers.  As a result of this they are requesting long term strategies to stop HIV from spreading.  The aim is to target more “vulnerable communities” which include women, isolated gay men and non-English speakers.

While we welcome the end of the AIDS epidemic, the HIV epidemic is still ongoing.  The statistics show an increase over the past decade of HIV by 13%.  We need to be extra careful in our language, as there are many people who do not distinguish between AIDS and HIV, and some now believe that prevention is no longer a critical issue.

The researchers do believe that the almost zero AIDS diagnosis is the result of a 33 year response spanning science, medicine, and community outreach that began soon after HIV arrived in Australia.  They also accredit the decline of AIDS to the nations universal health care system, who ae providing affordable, effective and well-tolerated treatments for HIV infection.

Source article http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/australia-has-conquered-aids-not-hiv

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