HIV still exists in Australia. There were 963 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2017.
Although this is the lowest number of diagnoses since 2010, we need to make sure this trend continues.
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a condition that can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.
Left untreated, HIV attacks the body’s immune system making the body vulnerable to infections and medical conditions that the immune system would be normally capable of controlling.
What is AIDS?
AIDS refers to the illnesses that can develop as a result of untreated HIV or in a person where current treatments have failed. People living with HIV in Australia may still develop AIDS, but this is now rare.
HIV is a chronic condition
HIV can affect anyone. While there is no vaccine or cure for HIV, there are highly effective treatments.
People with HIV take medications on a daily basis to maintain their HIV at an undetectable level and to keep them healthy.
Today, HIV is considered a chronic but manageable condition, and people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives, with a similar life expectancy to a person who does not have HIV.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV may be present in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, menstrual fluid, rectal fluids, and in breast milk. It may be transmitted when such fluids from a person with HIV enters the body of a person without HIV during anal or vaginal sex where preventative measures are not used. HIV may also be transmitted through the sharing of needles or through unsterile tattooing and piercing processes.
HIV is not an air-borne virus such as the flu. It cannot be passed on by hugging, kissing, shaking hands, coughing or sneezing, nor can it be transmitted through sharing toilets, washing facilities, eating utensils or consuming food and beverages handled by someone who has HIV.
How can you help prevent HIV transmission?
- Practice safer sex, i.e. by using condoms with water-based lubricants
- Take medication called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Treatment as Prevention (TasP) – use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) medicine reduces the amount of HIV in a person’s body and may lead to what is called ‘viral suppression’, reducing the likelihood of transmission of HIV to a HIV-negative person
- Protect yourself while you travel – if you’re sexually active, take condoms and lubricant to countries where there is a high prevalence of HIV
- Don’t share needles and personal care items (e.g. razors) as this can increase the risk of HIV being transmitted through blood
- Get tested if you’re at risk or have known risk factors.
To learn more about the ways you can help prevent HIV transmission, please make a booking with your doctor.
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS. It is a day for the community to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of AIDS related conditions or other conditions associated with HIV.
Get tested at PVH Medical
The only way to know if you have HIV is through HIV testing, such as a blood test.
You can get a confidential test by visiting your doctor and asking for an HIV test.
Source: World AIDS Day Australia
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.