This report provides information on the occurrence of bloodborne viruses and sexually transmissible infections among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia. The report is published by the Kirby Institute for the purposes of stimulating and supporting discussion on ways to minimise the risk of transmission of these infections as well as the personal and social consequences within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
This report is published annually as an accompanying document to the HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: annual surveillance report and is overseen by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Annual Surveillance Report Advisory Committee.
- The higher and increasing rate of both HIV and hepatitis C notifications in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the past five years is in contrast to the declining HIV rate in
Australian‑born non‑Indigenous population and stable hepatitis C rate in the non‑Indigenous population.
- The higher rates of hepatitis C notifications in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may reflect differences in injecting practices, absolute increases in injecting drug use in the population, and in particular, higher rates of receptive syringe and other drug equipment sharing. The difference could also be accounted for by disproportionate rates of incarceration in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people combined with higher rates of hepatitis C screening in this setting.
- There has been success in controlling a limited number of sexually transmissible diseases (STIs) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Donovanosis, once an STI diagnosed among remote Aboriginal populations, is now virtually eliminated.
- Social determinants of health, such as access to health care, education, unemployment, poverty and discrimination, can also influence risk factors for blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. These must be addressed concurrently with the development of culturally appropriate and relevant prevention, testing and treatment strategies.