Age (Australia) (10.23.03) - Thursday, October 23, 2003
At a conference on HIV medicine in Cairns, associate professor
Cindy Shannon, member of an Australian government body on
HIV/AIDS, said 823 HIV cases were reported in Australia in
2002. The case count represents an 8.4 percent increase over
2001, when 759 new cases were diagnosed, according to a 2003
surveillance report from the National Centre in HIV
Epidemiology and Clinical Research and the annual behavior
report the National Centre in HIV Social Research. The upturn
is confined to New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
The increase occurred after new HIV cases hit a record low
four years ago, from 1,228 in 1992 to 724 in 1999. Shannon
said 90 percent of new HIV cases were acquired through gay
male sex, indicating a trend of gay men having more unsafe sex
with casual partners.
"The report shows that among gay men there has been a
continuing increase in unprotected anal intercourse with
casual sex partners in most Australian cities," Shannon said.
The reports revealed that in Sydney, more than a third of gay
men were having unprotected sex with casual partners - a 24
percent increase from 1998. Fifty-nine percent of gay men were
having unprotected sex with regular partners - up 10 percent
In 2002, 13,120 Australians were living with HIV/AIDS, figures
showed, including 246 people with newly diagnosed AIDS. The
reports also indicated a continuing trend toward heterosexual
transmission of the virus in indigenous communities, Shannon
Chlamydia diagnoses increased from 74.7 per 100,000 people in
1999 to 128.5 per 100,000 people in 2002. Gonorrhea increased
from 29.9 per 100,000 in 1999 to 32.9 per 100,000 in 2002.