HIV RISES 19% in Hetero Males over the last 5 years

Fallen in the Gay community, but Hetero males are falling victim at a fair rate.

HIV rates among heterosexuals on the rise in Australia

By Biwa Kwan, Sunil Awasthi

5-7 minutes

HIV diagnoses among heterosexuals have increased by 10 per cent over the past five years, according to new statistics.

The Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales released the new statistics on Monday and will present them at the Australasian HIV & AIDS Conference in Sydney this week.

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There's been a sharp increase in HIV diagnoses among Asian-born gay men.

The research found more than half of the diagnoses among heterosexuals were late, meaning that the patient had been living with HIV for four or more years.

“Being diagnosed late can affect a person’s immune system and their health and they also might pass on infection unknowingly to someone else,” said the Kirby Institute’s Professor Rebecca Guy.

She said heterosexual males are emerging as the fastest growing group of HIV diagnoses, with a 19 per cent increase in the last five years.

A seven-year low

The overall number of new diagnoses of HIV in Australia last year dropped to a seven-year low, dipping below 1000 to 963 new diagnoses.

That drop has been mainly attributed to a 15 per cent fall in the diagnosis of HIV among gay and bisexual men – traditionally comprising almost two-thirds of people infected with HIV in Australia.


A health worker collects blood samples for HIV testing.

Authorities credit the higher rates of testing and treatment, as well as an increase in the use of the preventative “prep” pill, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Prep is used before sex, similar to an oral contraceptive pill, and was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in April.

But despite the progress, Professor Guy said more work needs to be done to lower the diagnosis rates in certain groups, including migrant communities.

"The declines in HIV have not been equal,” she said.

“There have been no major declines in people born overseas, and there’s also been an increase in heterosexuals, which highlights the importance of additional, tailored strategies to ensure the benefits of Australia’s prevention response are equitable."

In the last five years, while the number of diagnoses have dropped by 25 per cent among men who have sex with men, the numbers have increased by 5 per cent for men born overseas.

‘Thriving’ with HIV

Richard Keane, chief executive of support group Living Positive Victoria, understands the initial fear of getting a diagnosis of HIV.

He has been living with HIV for 27 years and said the biggest challenge he grappled with was self-stigma.

“I always prepared to possibly die from AIDS,” he said of the medical advice at the time, which said he had five years to live.

“I fell off the radar for a time, and became self-isolated.”

It was after the death of his partner to an age-related illness that he decided to take action.

“I decided I need to be brave and I needed to put my face to living with HIV, and speak about the real lived experience,” he said.

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Cambodian health authorities make a blood test on the villagers as they concern about spreading HIV.

“What led me to advocacy is the peer support because there are a range of challenges around discrimination, what your legal obligations are…all sorts of issues around who do you tell, when do you tell.

“I am now sharing those experiences to become resilient.”

He said early testing is critical to receiving the treatment that will facilitate a good quality of life, adding that overcoming stigma is still a concern today.

"It made me see my best days weren’t behind me, they’re ahead of me, and I am living well, and I’m thriving with HIV,” Mr Keane said.

“We need to move away from the old idea that HIV is a gay disease…a lot of people in the heterosexual community don’t think they’re at risk.

“But if we’re going to genuinely end HIV, I need to remind people that everyone is at risk of HIV. I encourage you to go to your doctor and get a HIV test.”

HIV in Indigenous communities

Associate Professor James Ward, head of Aboriginal Infectious Diseases at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, said Aboriginal populations in regional areas also need particular attention.

“A common theme over the last five to 10 years [has been] small outbreaks in regional and remote areas," he said.

"It puts enormous strain on health services in those settings, and enormous buy-in of expertise is often required in those settings.”

The Australian government is one of the few nations that has set a goal to virtually eliminate HIV transmission, and is due to release a new national HIV strategy soon.

While there is no cure for HIV, a virus which attacks the immune system, regular treatments can suppress the virus so that the transmission risk through bodily fluids is effectively zero.

A person living with HIV receiving treatment is expected to live a near-normal life span.

If left untreated, however, the condition could lead to serious damage of the immune system and the development of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), where life expectancy drops significantly.

The full findings from the Kirby Institute will be presented in November.

Sex Education is a massive issue. As a social worker, I bang my head against a wall because every organisation is sh*t scared of the Christians.
Schools, charities & not-for-profits are risk-averse about developing preventive sex education programs that are useful and practical for young people. Everyone has their head in the sand, because they don’t want to have this conversation because it challenges their values and beliefs.

I’ve had so many conversations with teenage men about using protection, and you wouldn’t believe how many of them don’t use a condom. They simply have no idea. They think it will be fine. They’re happy to pass the buck onto the female.

More Abortions happen than anyone would like to know.
I’m literally not surprised by the rise in HIV honestly.


It’d be interesting how much of the increase in straight men is attributable to IV drug use.

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It’s not that easy to catch HIV off a woman, unless you have lesions on the old boy.

Whereas the other lot create the lesions.

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Hang on. If there is a rise in straight men doesn’t there need to be an equivalent rise in straight women? It is a sexually transmitted disease right?

That’s one of the ways

Needles would be a common one.


Maybe a whole lot of men laid down with the one hiv infected woman.

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Given the article seems to only cover one gender you’d think so wouldn’t you.

Or they arent as straight as they would seem?

My ex-girlfriend was pretty blase about using protection. However I always insisted. Every time she’d say the same thing - “you don’t need to wear a condom when I’m pegging you!” But safety should be taken seriously at all times.


Depends if its straight men eyeing off the other hole?

IV drug use would be higher in men, I believe

Also stories about sex sell, drug use not so much

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Is there some rise in IV drug use that would account for this? It’s not the 90s

Increase of ice and opioids which can be injected not just smoked or swallowed.

That doesn’t answer the question

The problem with population screening is that, despite the increase in incidence within the heterosexual population, the prevalence of the disease is still very, very low. Even a near perfect test is likely to be wrong at least 75% of the time amongst a heterosexual population (assuming a prevalence of ~1 in 10,000 people). It’s a very tricky issue.

I’m not totally across the drug use figures in Australia. But I’d have a guess that with an ultra-conservative Federal government… harm-minimisation and needle exchange programs have pretty much been defunded or if they’re lucky… reduced funding.

Didn’t it?

You were far too serious, which is why it never lasted between us.