Fewer gay men having HIV tests
TESTING for HIV has become less common among gay men who also report rising cases of unprotected sex with casual partners, a researcher says.
The proportion of gay men who reported having an HIV test in the previous 12 months dropped from 66% in 2008 to 58.9% in 2010, the conference was due to be told.
Among those who have casual partners, the proportion who reported at least one unprotected sexual encounter in the previous six months increased from 33.4% in 2008 to 37.7% in 2010.
Dr Martin Holt (PhD), senior research fellow at the National Centre in HIV Social Research, Sydney, said it added weight to a push for rapid, point-of-care testing for HIV.
“Testing has come off the boil… We need to be doing whatever we can to encourage people to come through the door,” Dr Holt said. “The proposed changes to Australia’s National HIV Testing Policy to allow community-based, rapid HIV testing may make testing more accessible to at-risk groups.”
The latest national HIV surveillance figures released by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales show annual diagnoses are stable, although high, at 1043 in 2010 compared to 1050 the previous year, with gay men accounting for most new cases.
Among heterosexual cases, 60% involved people from countries of high HIV prevalence or their partners.
Rates of diagnosis have dropped in NSW and Victoria and risen in Queensland and Western Australia.
Annual diagnoses have not reduced over the past five years, at around 1000 annually, after rising from the epidemic’s all-time Australian low of 718 cases in 1999, the institute said.
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