“It’s the lowest number we’ve seen in 18 years,” said Rebecca Guy, head professor of the institute’s Surveillance, Evaluation and Research program, in a report in The Sydney Morning Herald. Guy attributed the drop to the increase of PrEP use, regular testing and treatment efforts. PrEP is highly effective at making HIV transmission nearly impossible.
However, the report did not reveal good news for straights folks Down Under. HIV rates among straight men and women are holding steady in Australia, and account for roughly 200 new cases every year. Traditionally, heterosexuals have accounted for roughly one in five of all HIV diagnoses annually, but now — just as gay and bisexual men are curbing their HIV rates in the country — their rate has risen to one in four, HIV Plus Mag reports.
One issue is that testing rates are significantly lower among heterosexuals. Only an estimated one in three heterosexual people had been tested for HIV in their lifetime in Australia. This results in a large numbers of people living with HIV for years before they are diagnosed, raising the risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to their sexual partners, according to Kirby’s data, HIV Plus Mag reports.
Guy adds that the dramatic decline was the result of the “incredible commitment” of government, health care workers, the community and researchers.