HIV :: Sex, drugs and HIV

The rise in the number of Australian HIV cases in the past seven years is likely to be related to risky sexual behaviour in men having sex with men, according to work co-authored by UNSW researchers.

The work, which has just been published in the Medical Journal of Australia, has been published to coincide with this week?s International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference, the largest scientific gathering to be held in Australia.

Professor John Kaldor, Deputy Director and Professor of Epidemiology at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) at UNSW, and his colleagues in State and Territory health departments and the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, studied changes in the number of HIV cases diagnosed from 1993 to 2006.

Professor Kaldor says HIV exposure through male-to-male sex accounted for 70 percent of all cases, followed by heterosexual contact at 18 percent.

In more than half of heterosexually acquired cases, the person was born in or had a partner from a country with a high prevalence of HIV. Exposure to HIV from injecting drug use was infrequent.

As part of this week?s IAS Conference, UNSW has co-hosted a satellite seminar.

Daniel Tarantola, who is Professor of Health and Human Rights at UNSW, was the convenor of a session concerning the ethical treatment of those who are involved in HIV vaccine and other prevention trials.

?There are a number of trials in relation to HIV which are ongoing, yet the rights of the participants are not clearly defined,? said Professor Tarantola.

?For instance, what should be the entitlement of care to someone who contracts HIV while participating in a trial??

The event was also hosted by UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, with presentations from both organisations among the distinguished guests.

500 conference delegates, UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer and Justice Michael Kirby helped celebrate NCHECR?s 21st birthday.

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