Statewide, 193 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2016.
Statewide, 193 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2016. Iain Curry

32 new cases of HIV since 2012

SIX Wide Bay region residents were told last year they had HIV.

Their diagnosis brings to 32 the number of Wide Bay health region locals who have contracted the preventable disease since 2012.

The health region covers Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast.

Our area's six new notifications follow four in 2015, eight in 2014, four in 2013 and 10 in 2012.

Statewide, 193 people were diagnosed with the disease in 2016.

Research shows about 68% of transmissions occur among men who have sex with men; 20% occur following heterosexual sex; and 3% occur via injecting drugs.

HIV Foundation Queensland chairman Dr Darren Russell said the transmission rate could climb as more people moved to the area.

"The numbers remain low here, which is very good news," Dr Russell said.

"However, as an area with a growing gay population, it's certainly one region that we have to keep an eye on.

"The Wide Bay has limited services for HIV testing and that's also something that will need more attention as the population grows."

People at high risk of HIV can join the state's pre-exposure prophylaxis trial, requiring them to take a tablet a day to reduce their risk of contracting the disease.

The trial costs the health system about $750 per patient per year.

The Queensland Government is unable to quantify the annual cost of HIV on the health system, but Dr Russell said the disease rarely turned into life-limiting AIDS as it did in the 1970s and 1980s.

He said recent breakthroughs in medications prevented further health complications and the spread of the disease, with about 84% of those infected receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

"The new treatments have virtually no side effects and one tablet a day can keep the person healthy and leading a normal life," Dr Russell said.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said the State Government hoped to reduce transmissions to zero.

"While it is great to see a reduction in HIV notifications in some areas, there is more work to be done," Mr Dick said.

"The Palaszczuk government is working with non-government organisations and the community towards virtual elimination of new HIV transmissions in Queensland by 2020."

- ARM NEWSDESK



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