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About HIV


  • By the end of 2013, Australia had 32,315 HIV diagnoses since the beginning of the epidemic in 1983 with 1,236 new cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • There are an estimated 24,500 to 30,900 individuals currently living with HIV in Australia.
  • HIV is identified through blood tests with a variety of testing options now available.
  • HIV is a manageable chronic condition necessitating lifelong treatment​.
  • Modern treatments have simplified the clinical management of HIV, increasing the role of primary care in patient care.

HIV in Australia

​HIV in Australia disproportionally affects men who have sex with men (MSM).

Rates of HIV are higher in Indigenous Australians than the general population.​

The prevalence of HIV among injecting drug users in Australia is very low, approximately 1%. 2

Mother-to-child transmission is rare in Australia.

The advances in antiretroviral (ARV) treatment have meant that HIV is now considered a chronic condition. Antiretroviral (ARV) treatments have evolved and are now effective, simple and cause fewer side effects.

Antiretrovirals work to inhibit viral replication. The goal of ARV treatment is to achieve an undetectable viral load in plasma. 

Although plasma is normally tested for viral activity, a reduction also occurs in other body fluids associated with HIV transmission (notably semen and vaginal fluid). 

Until 2010, HIV prevention in Australia had been primarily focused around social and behavioural activities. Over the past few years, however, there have been significant developments leading to possibilities of HIV prevention using ARVs. It is now widely believed that this tool, deployed appropriately, has the potential to reduce rates of HIV transmission.

According to the 2014 National Surveillance Report, between 13,200 and 19,500 diagnosed individuals were receiving antiretroviral treatment and had undetectable levels of HIV.

Approximately 49-73% of individuals currently living with HIV and 57-84% of individuals with diagnosed HIV are on antiretroviral treatment and have achieved undetectable viral load.

Current priorities in HIV include:

  • Renewed efforts to identify individuals with both established undiagnosed HIV and newly acquired HIV
  • Renewed prevention of transmission messages including commencement of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pilots in a number of Australian cities
  • Faster initiation onto treatment based on patient preparedness and clinical indication​​


1. The Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia Annual Surveillance Report 2012. The Kirby Institute, the University of New South Wales, Sydney​

2. Australian NSP Survey National Data Report 1995-2010 KI, University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia

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