With the incidence of HIV infection on the rise in Australia we must look at where the disease is coming from and focus on better education around HIV testing and HIV prevention to prevent this situation.
In Australia 2011 showed an 85 % increase in infection rates and over the last 10 years a 50% increase. To solely attribute this to Australians returning from overseas travel with HIV is far from accurate.
However we should of course take note to the following realities:
-Thailand and Bali are extremely popular destinations for Australians seeking sun, fun and often a sexual encounteror causal relationship.
-A recent study found that an alarming 30% of western men practiced unprotected sex with Thai sex workers. The most common justification was that casual relationship partners were not always identified as sex workers and that having regular sexual contact with them lowered the perception of risk.
-HIV is extremely high in these countries and western men practicing unprotected sex with sex workers is aiding in its spread.
-Often men returning from these destinations are unable to isolate themselves from sexual partners for 12 weeks in order to carry out adequate HIV testing.
This adds up to a worrying scenario for Australia. In an ideal world our borders would be controlled for HIV just as they are for dangerous foodstuffs and contraband. It is clear that this will not happen so the next line in the defence is adequate and easily accessible HIV testing for at risk individuals.
For information about HIV testing in your city contact www.afao.org.au
For Information about HIV counselling contact www.sexualhealthaustralia.com.au