HIV & STI Statistics Australia

Australian statistics

At the end of 2010 21391 people were tested HIV positive in Australia. In total 6787 people died due to AIDS related illnesses. According to the Kirby Institute, the number of males living with HIV in Australia is more than 10 times larger than women.

In the past ten years Australia has seen an increase of sexually transmissible infections.  Even though STIs primarily affect the young, the rates of infection for older age groups are also increasing. The underlying reason of the growth of STIs is hard to specify. Due to improved awareness more people are being tested, this can affect the notification rates.

Bacterial STIs

Bacterial STIs are caused by bacteria passed from person-to-person during sexual activity.

  • Chlamydia

It is the most frequently reported bacterial STI in Australia. Almost 80,000 notifications in 2011. In the last decade Australian chlamydia reports have tripled.

Chlamydia bacteria can infect the cervix, rectum or the urethra. Occasionally, it can also infect the throat after having oral sex. Infection can also spread to the eyes by touching an infected area and then touching the eye. Without treatment, these eye infections can be very severe and can cause blindness.

Most people infected with chlamydia will not experience symptoms. For those who do have them, they usually appear between 2 days to 2 weeks after contraction. Chlamydia is usually more harmful for women than for men, and  women are also less likely to have symptoms.

  • Gonorrhoea

Also Gonorrhoea  notifications increased in the last decade. In 2011, 65 per 100,000 of  Australian population got infected with gonorrhoea.

Gonorrhoea infects reproductive organs.  If left untreated, gonorrhoea can also cause infertility in both men and women. Oral antibiotics can generally cure a gonorrhoea infection in just one dose. When tested positive, recent sexual partners should also be informed as they may need testing and treatment.

  • Syphilis

In 2011, 1,233 new cases of people diagnosed with syphilis were reported in Australia.

Syphilis is a bacterial STI caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum.  It can cause serious and permanent damage to the body if left  uncured.

Syphilis is easily treatable, but the longer it goes untreated, the more harm it can cause. Partners need to be tested immediately. Early detection can avoid long-term health complications.

Viral STIs

Viral STIs are caused by viruses passed from person-to-person during sexual activity. In general viral infections involve many different parts of the body at the same time.

  • HIV

In 2010, 1,031 new cases of HIV were detected in Australia.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, If left untreated, HIV leads to the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus destroys the immune system and enables deadly infections. HIV is transmitted through contact with HIV infected body fluids such as vaginal secretions, semen, pre-semen, breast milk, and blood.

Other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are curable and may have no symptoms, these  can increase your risk of contracting HIV. Getting tested and  treated for other STIs can also help reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

For HIV testing, in general, there is a three month window period. This is the estimated time between infection with HIV and the time an HIV test can detect the virus. Mostly, testing may be accurate after several weeks of infection, but in rare cases it takes up to six months.

  • Genital Herpes

Herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus that causes genital herpes and cold sores. HSV infection is common; nearly 1 in 8 Australians have the virus (1 in 6 women and 1 in 12 men)
After infection with Herpes Simplex, the virus remains in the body for life and periodic infections or outbreaks can take place. At the moment no treatment is available no to cure genital herpes,  antiviral medication can shorten and in some cases even suppress outbreaks.

  • Hepatitis B

In Australia, an estimated  165,000 people are chronically infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause scarring of the liver, liver failure, and liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world.

Hepatitis B can be found in blood and body fluids including semen, vaginal secretions, saliva and breast milk. Hepatitis B is mostly spread through sexual contact, sharing of needles and mother to child transmission.

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