The increasing rates of HIV notifications in men who have sex with men is not solely due to a rise in unprotected sex, a new study from the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research claims.

The study, entitled Mathematical models to investigate recent trends in HIV notifications among men who have sex with men in Australia, looks into why there have been increased numbers of HIV notification in every state except NSW since 1999.

It found that increased rates of unprotected sex could not alone explain the figures, and that it was this in conjunction with rising rates of STI infection that was leading to the epidemic.

We were very surprised by the findings. We thought that the rise in HIV infections would be caused by a reduction in condom use, but we found that that alone could not account for it, there had to be another biological mechanism, which was the rise in STIs like chlamydia and syphilis, chief investigator Dr David Wilson said.

Our research is aimed at policy makers, so they can introduce campaigns which effectively target people at risk.

Though we can’t stress enough that the best way to mitigate an epidemic is to increase condom usage and the frequency of testing.

The NCHECR’s mathematical projections estimate that by 2015 NSW would be the only state which shows a decrease in the rate of new infections, while it is estimated that Victoria will nearly double its rate of infection and Queensland will show a minor increase.

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