National update on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia 2009–2018

Due to the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic, there have been delays in the release of data usually reported in the HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual surveillance report.

In lieu of the release of the full report, the following summary data have been made available. Unless otherwise specified, the years 2014 to 2018 are used for comparison. These data, including full data tables and charts as well as additional information can be found on the Kirby Institute’s data site:

Key findings
  • Between 2014 and 2018 the number of HIV notifications reduced by 23%, due to more people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, people living with HIV starting treatment earlier, and a strong uptake of pre‑exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among gay and bisexual men.
  • Continued reductions in new hepatitis C notifications and prevalence were seen in 2018 because of the introduction of subsidised direct‑acting antiviral therapies in 2016. A corresponding increase in the number of people reporting ever having received treatment for hepatitis C was reported by participants of the Australian Needle and Syringe Program Survey.
  • Gradual reductions in the number of new hepatitis B notifications have continued in 2018, largely due to the introduction of universal infant hepatitis B vaccination, adolescent vaccination catch‑up programs and targeted vaccination programs for populations who are at increased risk for acquiring hepatitis B. Despite these gains, the hepatitis B diagnosis and care cascade indicates that only an estimated 68% of those living with chronic hepatitis B have been diagnosed, short of the 80% target outlined in the Third National Hepatitis B Strategy (2018–2022).
  • Increases in the number of notifications of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis were seen in 2018. For gonorrhoea and syphilis, these increases have outpaced the increases in the level of STI testing, providing evidence for increasing transmission of these infections.
  • Among non‑Indigenous Australian‑born heterosexual males under 21 years attending sexual health clinics for the first time, the proportion diagnosed with genital warts has also fallen from 11.2% in 2007 to 0.2% in 2018, a reduction of 98%, with an 87% decline since 2013 when male vaccination was added to the National Immunisation Program Schedule.
  • Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rates of HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people. Due to the ongoing infectious syphilis outbreak across northern Australia, rates of infectious syphilis diagnoses have increased considerably from 31.2 per 100,000 population in 2014 to 101.2 per 100,000 in 2018. Gonorrhoea diagnosis rates are also continuing to climb (578.9 per 100,000 population in 2014 to 717.3 per 100,000 population in 2018). Diagnosis rates of chlamydia and hepatitis C have remained steady. However, rates of hepatitis B diagnosis are declining, due to the impact of universal vaccination (45.2 per 100,000 in 2014 to 27.0 per 100,000 in 2018). There have also been declines in the proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander males and females presenting with genital warts at first visit at sexual health clinics. Males aged under 21 have shown an 81% reduction in genital warts diagnoses (from 7.2% to 1.4%), and females have shown an 84% reduction (from 6.4% to 1.0%).