Data & Reports
HIV is a ‘notifiable disease”, and information must be collected on every case diagnosed, using standard forms which include questions which ask about the probable mode of transmission, country of birth, and Indigenous status. This information is forwarded to state/territory health departments – without the names of the people who have been diagnosed, just a code for each case. This is known as HIV surveillance – the monitoring of the HIV epidemic.
Australian HIV surveillance data are sent to the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society, which produces annual reports on HIV, viral hepatitis and STI diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These annual surveillance show the number of new HIV diagnoses in the previous calendar year, statistics on modes of transmission (e.g., anal sex, heterosexual sex, sharing of injecting drug equipment), and rates of HIV in particular populations – including for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
For an overview of recent data on HIV rates in our community and a discussion of the growing divergence between HIV rates among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, see HIV and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in 2017. This booklet is produced by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute to highlight the risk that HIV could take hold among our people and inform discussion of actions needed to prevent this from happening.
Government decisions on investment in HIV prevention, treatment and care are made on the basis of surveillance data, along with findings from research studies and consultations with community advocates.
International HIV data, including Australian data, are analysed by the United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS). UNAIDS reports can include information on HIV among Indigenous peoples in Australia and in other countries, such as Canada.
Latest data on HIV and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Australian surveillance data on HIV for 2016 was released by the Kirby Institute (UNSW) on 6 November 2017. For data on HIV and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see: Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: 2017.
Rising HIV rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been observed in data analyses over the last few years and the new data show that this trend continues. There is a clear divergence in HIV rates between the Australian Indigenous population and the Australian-born non-Indigenous population: rates going up for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population but stable for the non-Indigenous Australian-born population.
The rate of HIV diagnosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is now more than double the Australian-born non-Indigenous rate. For commentary, see SAHMRI’s news post on the data release and here’s A/Prof James Ward from SAHMRI discussing the implications of the data.
2016 data snapshot
- The rate of HIV notifications in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population increased by 33% from 2012 to 2016. The rate of HIV notifications in the non-Indigenous Australian-born population decreased by 22% from 2012 to 2016.
- In 2016 the HIV notification rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.2 times that of the Australian-born non-Indigenous population.
- Between 2007 and 2011, HIV notification rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males were stable, but rates increased by 90% between 2011 and 2016. In contrast, the HIV notification rate in the Australian‑born non‑Indigenous male population fell by 15% between 2011 and 2016.
- In the past five years, a higher proportion of HIV diagnoses among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was attributed to heterosexual sex (20%) and injecting drug use (14%) compared to the Australian‑born non‑Indigenous population (15% and 3%, respectively)
- Based on the test for immune function for people newly diagnosed with HIV, a quarter (26%) of the new HIV diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2016 were classified as late diagnoses. These people are likely to have acquired HIV at least four years prior to diagnosis without being tested.
- There were an estimated 574 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with HIV in Australia in 2016. Of those, an estimated 20% (111 people) were undiagnosed, compared to an estimated 8% of Australian‑born non‑Indigenous people with undiagnosed HIV.
- In 2016 there was a total of 1013 new diagnoses of HIV in Australia. 46 of these new diagnoses were among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5% of the total number of HIV diagnoses. (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 2.8% of the population.