HIV rising to late ’80s levels, says researcher

6 Mar
Dr Christian Moro is concerned over the rise in HIV in Australia. Picture: Brianna Morris-Grant

Dr Christian Moro is concerned over the rise in HIV in Australia. Picture: Brianna Morris-Grant

By Brianna Morris-Grant, Bond University Journalism Student

HIV rates in Australia have risen by almost 10% in the past decade and are approaching levels of the late 1980s when the virus was at its height, according to research at Bond University.

Rates for the virus reached a record low in 1999 but have been climbing steadily since, with almost 30,000 Australians today known to have the virus, and as many as 10,000 more unaware they have it.

Bond University Professor Dr Christian Moro said  this was the highest increase in the virus in 20 years.

“This is a big issue because these are people who have HIV for life,” he said.

“This is the most serious infection that we have, it destroys your immune system.”

About 25 million people around the world have died from AIDs, and around 33.5 million people are currently infected – one third of those are between 15 and 25.

Though it is almost certain that the virus will not develop into AIDs if treatment is given, HIV still cuts the life expectancy by as much as 15 years.

Dr Moro said the rise could also be due to a lack of concern among young Australians who ignore the danger.

“We need Australians to not just understand the risks, but to act on them as well, it’s very easy to prevent,” he said.

“The problem is getting people to act on the risk in the heat of the moment.”

A chart showing the change in HIV rates for the past 30 years.

A chart showing the change in HIV rates for the past 30 years.

This has raised questions as to whether the a lack of education about the risks are to blame, and whether the Australian government should return to advertisements like those from the 1980s, when HIV was at its highest.

Ad man John Singleton’s infamous Grim Reaper campaign, in which Death bowled down men, women and children, was largely credited with helping  reduce incidence of the virus .

A spokesperson from the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) Adrian Ogier, said the key to a solution was setting goals.

“The United Nations, along with Australia itself, in its own right, have set some targets to bring down transmissions of HIV, to encourage more people to go onto treatment,” he said.

Dr Moro’s advice was clear.

“Prevention and education are the most effective tools we have,” he said.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: