Data from annual HIV report card “encouraging” for HIV prevention, advocates say
Positive Life NSW has responded to the latest Kirby Institute report on STI transmission in Australia, saying in terms of HIV prevention the results are encouraging.
“The report gives us really good evidence and data on what is happening out there in terms of treatment uptake and prevention strategies among gay men; it shows the community is well engaged with health care providers and that’s good news,” Positive Life NSW CEO Craig Cooper tells GNN.
The report shows a large majority of HIV positive people are on anti-retroviral therapy, which has been shown to reduce the risk of transmission considerably as an individual reaches an undetectable viral load.
“We’ve seen an uptake in the use of PrEp (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) which has become an important aspect of HIV prevention,” Cooper says.
“We’ve also seen an increase in treatment as prevention, where people on retrovirals reach an undetectable level of HIV in the blood and that means that those who choose to have condomless sex are much less likely to transmit the virus.”
Cooper said it was still important to support people who choose to use condoms as prevention despite the increase in other prevention strategies.
“”Condoms are still a very important prevention tool, especially for those who are not getting tested and may be unaware of their HIV status,” Cooper says.
One of the most encouraging aspects of the Kirby Institute reports is that NSW and Australia generally are coming into line with UN targets on ending HIV. The UN targets include 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy achieving viral suppression by 2020.
“I think we are in line with the targets set out by the UN, and if we’re not there already, we’re pretty close,” Cooper says.
“The best thing is we have a community that is really motivated to work with government and health care providers to reduce HIV transmission.
“We have the science, we have the technology, we have the political will and we have the community will; now is the time to maintain that effort and continue in the fight to end HIV.”
The Kirby Institute annual surveillance report can be found at kirby.unsw.edu.au
Image: Positive Life NSW CEO Craig Cooper. Photo: Cec Busby