HIV Rates are stable but more of us are HIV positive than ever before

HIV is a major health issue for gay men. Receiving an HIV diagnosis can be devastating and living with HIV can involve significant health, social and sexual complications. We need to reduce the spread of HIV so that fewer people are negatively affected by living with it now and in the future.

The number of gay men being diagnosed with HIV in NSW each year has been stable for the last decade.

This is good news compared with most other places in Australia and around the world where HIV rates in gay men have risen sharply during this time.

There are three big reasons why this has happened here.

  • Most gay men have continued to use condoms most of the time.
  • Most gay men limit the unprotected sex (that is, sex without condoms) they have to one person - their boyfriend, partner or a regular fuck buddy.
  • More and more HIV positive men are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load. There's growing evidence that an undetectable viral load makes HIV positive men much less likely to transmit HIV.

However, there are still a lot of gay men being diagnosed with HIV every year - 234 in 2010 alone. And there are now over 8500 gay men living with HIV in NSW.

Treatments for HIV are very effective at controlling the virus so it's now rare for people with HIV to become sick and die from AIDS (the condition that HIV causes). Of course this is good news but it also means that with over 230 men being diagnosed every year, the number of gay men with HIV continues to increase.

Even though more of us are HIV positive than ever before, it's hard to tell the difference between HIV positive and HIV negative men. Many HIV negative men say they don't think they have sex with any HIV positive men. Treatment for HIV has meant that most HIV positive people live relatively healthy lives so you can't tell by someone's appearance whether someone has HIV or not.

Comparing the States: Rates of New HIV Cases

Comparing the States: Rates of New HIV Cases

Most HIV positive men in NSW live in inner Sydney. The majority of the diagnoses in 2010 were residents of the inner eastern and inner western suburbs. In fact up to 15% of gay men in some inner metro areas are HIV positive, and around 10% of gay men elsewhere in Sydney.

Rates of New HIV Cases Among Gay and Bisexual Men in the Past Decade

Rates of New HIV Cases Among Gay and Bisexual Men in the Past Decade

Increasing Numbers of HIV Positive Men in NSW Since 2000

Increasing Numbers of HIV Positive Men in NSW Since 2000

Number of New HIV Diagnoses Among Gay Men in NSW in 2010

Number of New HIV Diagnoses Among Gay Men in NSW in 2010

Most men are in their 30s and 40s when they are diagnosed with HIV. However, men in their 20s and their 50s and older also make up a big part of HIV diagnoses every year.

HIV rates aren't increasing in NSW because most gay men continue to make good decisions about most of the sex they have. But there are still over 230 gay men being diagnosed with HIV each year.

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I can't live in fear and never have sex. But I can try to minimise the chances of getting HIV

Ian, HIV negative

I just didn't think it would affect me becuase I was so young. I actually didn't think it was that prevalent in Australia. I thought it didn't really exist.

Dean, HIV positive

ACON Health Limited trading as ACON | 414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 | PO Box 350, Darlinghurst, NSW 1300 | Tel. (02) 9206 2000 | Fax. (02) 9206 2069 | Freecall: 1800 063 060 | Hearing Impaired: (02) 9283 2088 Email: acon@acon.org.au | www.acon.org.au | ABN 38 136 883 915 | Authority to Fundraise CFN/21473
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