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 the most 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 2016. This booklet was 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 2015 was released on 14 November 2016, including the 2016 Bloodborne viral and sexually transmitted infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Surveillance and Evaluation Report.
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 now a clear divergence in HIV rates between the Australian Indigenous population and the Australian-born non-Indigenous population: rates going up for the Indigenous population but down for the non-Indigenous Australian-born population.
As can be seen in the graph below, the rate of HIV diagnosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is now more than double the Australian-born non-Indigenous rate.
The table above shows the newly diagnosed HIV notification rate in the Australian-born population per 100 000, for 2006-2015, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status (from The Kirby Institute. HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia, Annual Surveillance Report 2016. The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney NSW 2052. Available at http://kirby.unsw.edu.au/surveillance/Annual-Surveillance-Reports )
2015 data snapshot of HIV and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- The highest ever number of HIV notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in any one year since 1992, when data was first collected
- The rate of HIV diagnoses in 2015 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was more than double that of the Australian-born, non-Indigenous population (6.8 compared to 3.1 per 100 000)
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprised 4% of all HIV diagnoses
- Over the five years to the end of 2015, a distinguishable clear trend of divergence in HIV diagnosis rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people away from non-Indigenous rates (see graph above).
- Over the last five years to the end of 2015, there was a two-fold increase in the notification rate of newly diagnosed HIV among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males (from 6.2 per 100 000 in 2011, to 12.4 per 100 000 in 2015), whilst the rate in the non-Indigenous Australian-born male population decreased by 13%
- In 2015, the notification rate of newly diagnosed HIV infection in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was highest among those residing in remote areas (23.3 per 100 000), followed by major cities (8.4 per 100 000), outer regional areas (8.3 per 100 000), inner regional areas (7.3 per 100 000), and very remote areas (3.6 per 100 000). In each area the rate of newly diagnosed HIV was 3 to15 times higher than in the non-Indigenous Australian-born population (see graph below)
- A higher proportion of notifications of newly diagnosed HIV among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was attributed to injecting drug use (16% compared to 3% for the non-Indigenous population)
- A higher proportion of notifications of newly diagnosed HIV among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was attributed to heterosexual sex (21% compared to 14% for the Australian-born non-Indigenous population)
- 30% of the new HIV diagnoses among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were determined to be late diagnoses, i.e., for people who had been infected for at least 4 years without being tested.
COMMUNITY’S USE OF DATA
An example of how community organisations can use data to identify community health needs and advocate for improved access to services for our community is the development of maps and graphics by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). These “heat maps” are a highly effective way of presenting evidence to support funding applications for services.
The heat maps below show Indigenous population density for WA, NT and Queensland – with the highest densities in red and the lowest in green.