HIV infections rising among Australia's gay men
New HIV infections are climbing in Australia, with much of the rise attributed to unprotected sex among gay men in the country, according to a study presented this week at the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine national conference in Cairns. Health officials say 823 new HIV cases were reported in Australia in 2002, an 8.4% increase over 2001 figures. Most of the new cases were in South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria provinces, and 90% of the infections were reported among gay and bisexual men. "The report shows that among gay men there has been a continuing increase in unprotected anal intercourse with casual sex partners in most Australian cities," said epidemiologist Cindy Shannon. Studies of gay men in Sydney show that more than one third of the men reported having unprotected anal sex with casual partners and that 59% were having unprotected sex with regular partners. The rising HIV infection rates in Australia come after several years of declines, including a record-low number of new HIV cases in 1999.