Increase in HIV diagnoses among heterosexual and overseas born MSM in NSW

NSW Health recommends HIV testing in a diverse range of patients because of an increased number of HIV diagnoses through heterosexual sex among NSW residents and an increase of diagnoses of overseas born men who have sex with men (MSM). Despite numbers being low (67 people diagnosed), 29 per cent more heterosexual diagnoses were made across NSW in 2017 (compared to the average for the last six years). These infections were largely among people born in Australia who had likely acquired HIV traveling to countries with high HIV prevalence .

The number of new diagnoses among Australian born MSM in 2017 was 41 per cent less than the previous six year average, and early stage infections in this group were 56 per cent less. This decline is largely attributable to the rapid roll out of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and substantial increase in HIV testing in NSW.

The number of new diagnoses among overseas born MSM was 13 per cent higher in 2017 compared to the previous six year average. The increase in overseas born MSM was mostly in people with no evidence of recent infection in the 12 months prior to diagnosis (not early stage infection). In 2017, the number of new diagnoses in overseas born MSM exceeded that of Australian born MSM across NSW.

In SESLHD, 92 new HIV diagnoses were made in 2017. Of these 70 (76 per cent) MSM who were not also people who inject drugs (PWID) and 5 (5.4 per cent) were classified as being acquired by MSM who were also PWID. Four (4.3 per cent) were heterosexually acquired (excluding PWID) and 10 (10.8 per cent) were classified as being heterosexual who were also PWID.

In SLHD there was a 30 per cent decrease in new HIV diagnoses with 66 people diagnosed in 2017, compared to 95 in 2016. In 2017, SLHD recorded the lowest number of notifications in the district since at least 2009. This is in contrast to 2016 when, for the first time, SLHD recorded a higher number of notifications than SESLHD.

NSW Health provides resources and support to make HIV testing easier than ever. This includes the new Dry Blood Spot testing service providing free and private 'at home' HIV and hepatitis C testing service for people at high risk of HIV. Remember, the NSW HIV Support Program and NSW Sexual Health lnfolink are there to support you and your patients when a diagnosis is made.

Click to watch GP, Dr Bill Kefalas talk about HIV testing, diagnosis and treatment. Thank you for testing a diverse range of patients for HIV - together we're Ending HIV transmission by 2020.