Objective: To describe the epidemiological pattern
of newly diagnosed HIV infection and AIDS among Indigenous
Design and setting: National surveillance for newly diagnosed HIV infection and AIDS in Australia. Information on Indigenous status was sought at HIV/AIDS notification in all State/Territory health jurisdictions, except the Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria before June 1998.
Main outcome measures: Number of people with newly diagnosed HIV per year and population rate of HIV diagnosis; demographic characteristics of people with HIV and AIDS diagnoses by Indigenous status.
Results: From 1992 to 1998, 127 Indigenous Australians were newly diagnosed with HIV infection and 55 were diagnosed with AIDS. The population rate of HIV diagnosis among Indigenous Australians (5.23/100 000 per year) was similar to that among non-Indigenous Australians (5.51/100 000 per year). The annual number of HIV diagnoses among Indigenous people was relatively stable, but among non-Indigenous people it declined steadily over time. A higher proportion of Indigenous people diagnosed with HIV were women (26.8% v 8.9%; P < 0.001). Although male homosexual contact was the predominant source of exposure for both Indigenous (46.7%) and non-Indigenous (75.0%) people with HIV infection, exposure by heterosexual contact (36.7% v 15.3%; P < 0.001) was reported more frequently among Indigenous people.
Conclusion: Although HIV incidence was similar among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the lack of a recent decline in incidence and the higher proportion of Indigenous people exposed to HIV by heterosexual contact indicate the need to intensify interventions to prevent HIV transmission among Indigenous people.
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