HIV Knowledge, Risk Behaviour and Testing: A community survey in people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Little is known about the HIV-related knowledge, sexual behaviour and testing patterns of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations in Australia. This 2012 survey aimed to describe the knowledge, risk behaviour, and health service usage among people of Thai, Khmer, Zimbabwean, Ethiopian, Sudanese and South African backgrounds in NSW; and to establish an evidence-base to support policy and program interventions with these groups.

Key findings
  • Gaps in HIV-related knowledge were identified, with only 21% of respondents (16% male, 25% female) able to correctly identify all five modes of HIV transmission.
  • Eighty-four percent of respondents correctly identified HIV could be transmitted by sexual intercourse, 75% via injection and 70% through blood transfusion, but less than half identified child birth or breastfeeding as modes of transmission.
  • Overall 64% of sexually active participants reported they had a steady partner.
  • Of those with a steady partner, 17% always used condoms, 27% used condoms inconsistently and 56% never used condoms. Females were significantly more likely than males to report never using condoms (61% versus 51%, p=0.005). Being in a steady relationship was the most common reason for not using a condom.
  • Just over half (54%) of respondents reported ever having an HIV test, with only one-fifth of those tested having their most recent test in the past year.