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Characteristics of HIV diagnoses in Australia, 1993–2006

Rebecca J. Guy A B K , Ann M. McDonald C , Mark J. Bartlett D , Jo C. Murray E , Carolien M. Giele F , Therese M. Davey G , Ranil D. Appuhamy H , Peter Knibbs I , David Coleman J , Margaret E. Hellard A , Andrew E. Grulich C and John M. Kaldor C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Research, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Vic. 3181, Australia.

B Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic. 3181, Australia.

C National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

D Communicable Diseases Branch, New South Wales Health Department, Sydney, NSW 2059, Australia.

E AIDS Medical Unit, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia.

F Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Department of Health, Perth, WA 6849, Australia.

G STD Services, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

H Health Protection Service, ACT Health, Canberra, ACT 2611, Australia.

I Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses Unit, Centre for Disease Control, Darwin, NT 0811, Australia.

J Communicable Disease Prevention Unit, Department of Health and Human Services, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

K Corresponding author. Email:

Sexual Health 5(2) 91-96
Submitted: 12 September 2007  Accepted: 14 February 2008   Published: 2 June 2008


Objective: To describe recent trends in the diagnosis of HIV infection in Australia. Methods: National HIV surveillance data from 1993 to 2006 were analysed with a focus on geographic differences by HIV exposure route and late presentation (HIV within 3 months of a first AIDS-defining illness or a CD4 count of less than 200 cells μL–1). Results: In 1993–99, the number of HIV diagnoses declined by 32%, and then increased by 39% from 1999 to 2006. From 2000 onwards, rates increased significantly in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The most frequently reported routes of HIV exposure were male to male sex (71%) and heterosexual contact (18%), and the population rate of diagnoses have increased in both categories. Among the cases reported as heterosexually acquired (n = 2199), 33% were in people born in a high-prevalence country and 19% in those with partners from a high-prevalence country. Late presentation was most frequent in heterosexually acquired infections in persons who had a partner from a high-prevalence country: 32% compared with 20% overall. Conclusions: Recent increases in annual numbers of HIV diagnoses in Australia underline the continuing need for HIV-prevention programs, particularly among men having male to male sex. Early diagnosis and access to care and treatment should also be emphasised, as a substantial proportion of people with HIV infection are unaware of their status until late in the course of disease.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, surveillance.


The National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. The NCHECR Surveillance Program is a collaborating unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Its work is overseen by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS, Sexual Health and Hepatitis. National HIV surveillance is overseen by the National Blood Borne Virus and Sexually Transmissible Infections Surveillance Committee.


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