“Australia should take seriously the warning by Professor Kevin Fenton, UK Director of Health and Wellbeing, that the world faces a new global HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men,” FamilyVoice Australia research officer Ros Phillips said today.
In an address to a UK HIV conference earlier this month, Professor Fenton said that new HIV infections are at a 20 year high, mainly among homosexual and bisexual men. Even sub-Saharan Africa, with a huge incidence of HIV overall, the HIV rate in homosexual men is far higher than in heterosexual men and women. Despite the development of new drugs, widespread condom promotion and availability along with other tools to combat the disease, there is a potentially catastrophic HIV epidemic in homosexual men in every part of the world.
The professor said the reason for the surge in infections is the two main characteristics of homosexual sex: anal intercourse and promiscuity.
Anal sex is 18 times more risky
"It is now estimated that anal sex is 18 times better at transmitting HIV than vaginal sex,” Professor Fenton said. “The chance of HIV being caught from having receptive anal sex once with a partner with a detectable HIV viral load is about 1.4% or one in 71 encounters – but because people have sex together more than once, the per-partner likelihood of catching HIV from a sero-different partner is, in gay men, about 40%.”
Ros Phillips said Australia is not immune from these harmful trends. “In October, a Kirby Institute report showed that the rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections in Australia had risen by 10% in 12 months – the largest increase in 20 years,” she said.
“Our health and education officials seem to be in denial. The homosexual lifestyle is being promoted, even to school children, as equally safe and acceptable as heterosexuality. Australians deserve to know the truth.”
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