NSW Health has reported a one-year decrease in new HIV notifications after reducing the scope of people included.

This comes as the Federal Government announced at $9.8 million national campaign to combat rising HIV, chlamydia and syphilis infections.

Some people diagnosed with HIV in NSW will no longer be counted in state infection statistics if it was believed they were first infected and tested outside the state.

NSW Health advised that the 16.9 percent drop to 324 new infections in 2008 did not mean the actual HIV infection rate was in decline -” rather it was stable over the decade.

This variation is significantly due to the introduction of improved surveillance methods, a spokesman said.

The change was introduced to doctors midway through 2008.

The infection rate among gay men was also stable with 238 new cases last year, officials advised.
ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said gay men shouldn’t be complacent.

Gay men account for 76 percent of new diagnoses in NSW and the rate of infections remains stable because most gay men continue to use condoms most of the time, she said.

It is critical we maintain this high rate of condom use together with a high rate of testing so all gay men know their HIV status.

For the first time, all those newly diagnosed knew the likely source of their exposure.

Meanwhile, a mid-term review of the state’s 2006-2010 HIV strategy was conducted last month. The strategy had projected an optimistic decrease of 25 percent in new infections by 2010.

Australia had a national increase in new HIV notifications in 2006 and 2007. 2008 rates have not yet been released.

The new national STI prevention campaign will feature interactive urinal posters that say STIs are spreading fast -” always use a condom.

A spokeswoman for Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said research showed 16 to 29-year-old Australians were not well-informed about condom use and men who have sex with men are becoming complacent about the risk of HIV.

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