HIV diagnoses lowest in two decades but more work required

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Health minister Greg Hunt has welcomed new data confirming HIV diagnoses in Australia is at the lowest level in almost 20 years.

According to the Kirby Institute's HIV Quarterly notifications 2014–2018 report, there were 835 HIV diagnoses across Australia in 2018 compared to 964 cases in 2017.

This represents a decline in new diagnoses of 23 per cent in the past five years and is the lowest number of new diagnoses since 2001.

"This incredible result is also because of a strong uptake among gay and bisexual men of the daily HIV prevention medication pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which our Government listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 April 2018," said Mr Hunt.

"The $180 million listing of PrEP benefits up to 32,000 people who would otherwise pay $2,496 a year without the subsidy."

However, Mr Hunt also pointed to the figures confirming no decline in HIV diagnoses amongst heterosexual or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Mr Hunt said the new treatments have been complemented by the recently announced $45.4 million investment to support the implementation of Australia’s National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategies.

"The aim of the strategies is to reduce the impact of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections, including HIV," said Mr Hunt.