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HIV Infection Rates on the Rise in Victoria

by Medindia Content Team on March 18, 2006 at 7:23 PM
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HIV Infection Rates on the Rise in Victoria

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society which reports about the HIV infection in Victoria said that the HIV infection rates have jumped 28%.

Greg Iverson, president of People Living with HIV-AIDS Victoria said that it was a real wake-up call. The health officials are rethinking about their policies after infection rates soared. The majority of new victims are gay men between 35 and 45 years old.

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Brent Allan, who runs counseling services for HIV-positive people, said that the rise in infection is due to the development and availability of the pills and medications against the HIV infection.

Most gay men still engage in safe sex but there has been a rise in unsafe sex. Sean Slavin, the co-author of the La Trobe study conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society said that gay men are making sophisticated risk assessments about different sexual acts.
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Several positive gay men said that in Melbourne HIV rates have increased more than in Sydney and Brisbane. Slavin's study also highlights the rising role of crystal methamphetamine, which increases sexual desire and is often used in gay sex venues. Infections such as syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea are on the rise in the straight and gay communities and HIV comes along with the other Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Another theory about the rise of HIV surrounds its treatment. Statistics show that the number of positive men who took treatment dropped to 59 %. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a month-long course of strong anti-viral medication that can prevent HIV after unsafe sex. PEP is state-funded and costs up to $1000.

Slavin's study found PEP was difficult to gain access to the drugs. Slavin's study found gay men were preferring sex without condoms for the reasons such as intimacy and sensation. Engaging in unprotected sex to build trust and intimacy in a budding relationship led some men in Slavin's study to infection.

Greg Iverson, from People Living with HIV-AIDs Victoria, believes that the State Government needs to back advertising that is more risque and speaks more directly to the gay community and those living with HIV.

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