HIV first entered Australia 30 years ago and there has always been a strong theme of engaging affected communities.
In the early years of HIV in Australia there was much activity delivered and driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In terms of rates of HIV diagnoses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced a similar rate of diagnosis to the non-Indigenous population.
However, things are changing. Over the last five years or so we have seen:
* A rate of diagnosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that is more than double the rate of diagnosis among non-Indigenous people born in Australia
* Higher rates of HIV diagnosis occurring among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (3X) than among non-Indigenous women
* A higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people getting HIV (5X) due to sharing drug injecting equipment than for non-Indigenous people
* Continuing high rates of HIV diagnosis for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who have sex with men.
Here’s A/Prof James Ward from SAHMRI discussing the latest data:
ATSIHAW is now a key annual event for raising our communities’ awareness of HIV, for networking and for mobilising community action to bring down HIV rates in our communities.