Thirty-five years on and the homosexual community is still struggling under the epidemic of HIV and AIDS:
The number of people diagnosed with HIV in Australia remains at 20-year highs.
Annual data released from the Kirby Institute shows 1,235 new cases were diagnosed last year.
The figures have been released ahead of a global AIDS conference in Melbourne next week.
They show that HIV rates have been steadily rising in Australia since 1999 and more than 26,000 people are now living with the virus.
Researchers say they are concerned about complacency and that unprotected sex between casual male partners is a leading contributor to the increase.
The Kirby Institute report estimates one in seven Australians with HIV do not know they have the virus.
“The younger men were not around in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when there was a large fear campaign,” Associate Professor David Wilson said.
“Maybe they’re not so involved in the community that has such fear entrenched in their lives.”
Professor Wilson, who put together the annual surveillance report, said about 30 per cent are diagnosed too far along in their disease, meaning their immune systems have already sustained damage.
“In some cases, people are living for several years without knowing they are HIV-positive,” Professor Wilson said.
“If people wait a long time before getting diagnosed, or if they do not start treatment once diagnosed, it is not as easy to recover.”
Professor Wilson said there are community organisations working with the men to try and educate them.
“It’s essential that everybody who is engaging in behaviours that might put them at risk get tested on a relatively frequent basis,” he said.
Professor Wilson said about 2 per cent of all HIV-positive cases could be attributed to unsafe drug injecting.
“Fortunately [there] was pioneering in the 1980s and [it] has really led the world in large-scale implementation of needle and syringe programs and that has led to effectively no epidemic taking off,” he said.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations executive director Rob Lake said the community needs to get serious about what is at stake if warnings are not heeded.
“We are frustrated as well that we can’t turn these numbers around. Globally it’s the same,” he said.
“What we have had over the last 10, 15 years needs to change.
“These last couple of years we’ve tried to set up new community clinics, things that will really try and just get HIV back into gay men’s minds – get them re-engaged with it and HIV prevention, HIV treatment prioritised again amongst us.”
Victoria had the largest increase in cases and recorded a 16 per cent increase in HIV notifications.
Casual sex among gay men a concern
Another University of New South Wales report suggested unprotected sex between casual male partners is a leading cause of the increased cases.
The university’s Centre for Social Research in Health found rates of unprotected anal intercourse among gay men with casual partners had increased.
Of those surveyed, three in five HIV-positive men said they had unprotected casual sex.
Conversely, the rate of HIV testing is falling particularly among those who are under 25, with less than two-thirds of gay men being tested annually.
“Innovative and concerted efforts are urgently needed to reduce a new wave of HIV infection particularly among young gay men,” co-author Dr Limin Mao said.
This information should be central to any discussion of redefining marriage but I have never seen it pop up, ever!
The sad fact is that when you teach people to throw sexual restraint out the window in favour of relativity, these statistics are about as good a result as can be expected.
Biblical marriage and monogamy would contain and eventually end the AIDS epidemic (not to mention all STIs) but generations of people today have embraced a twisted version of freedom comes detached from responsibility and self control.
I care about Australian people and about our society – I don’t want anyone to get AIDS. Because I care, I cannot remain silent as the homosexual lobby champions homosexuality as safe and normal.
The reports all state otherwise.