HIV statistics in Australia

Published May 13 2022 inUncategorised
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Australia’s domestic response to HIV since its discovery in the 1980s has been regarded internationally as a world-leading model of best practice.  This has led to a national HIV incidence lower than many other comparable high-income countries. In order to maintain this momentum and achieve the aims of the UNAIDS targets to end the HIV epidemic, it is important that people at risk of infection maintain a regular HIV testing schedule, to ensure they get the appropriate treatment if required.

Those most at risk in Australia are men who have sex with men (MSM), although it is still important that all sections of the population remain vigilant against the risks of HIV to help achieve and maintain low rates of HIV.  There has been a particular increase in HIV transmission among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and heterosexuals.

Here we look at what HIV is, how it is transmitted and some of the main HIV statistics for Australia.

What is HIV?

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).  AIDS is a condition in which the immune system begins to fail, where infections that our body would normally fight naturally can become life-threatening.

The early symptoms of an HIV infection are very similar to a bad cold and can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Chest infection
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted between humans by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate and breast milk.  Most commonly HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person or the sharing of syringes or needles, usually through drug use.  HIV can also be passed on to a child before or after birth and during breast feeding.

How is HIV treated in Australia?

Modern treatments for HIV are very effective, especially if the diagnosis is made early.  Many people living with HIV are prescribed antiretroviral treatment and can go on to live long and fulfilling lives.  For those who are most at risk of contracting HIV, pre-exposure prophylaxis can help prevent them from initially contracting HIV.  As always, regular testing allows for the most effective treatment to be administered from the earliest stage possible.

What are the key HIV statistics for Australia?

Australia is considered to be one of a small number of countries with the three 90s.  90% of people with HIV have been diagnosed, 90% of those are in receipt of treatment and 90% of those have an undetectable viral load.  This means that approximately 10% of the people who are infected with HIV in Australia are unaware that they have the disease, making testing even more important in the fight to eliminate HIV completely in Australia.

  • 901 Australian’s were diagnosed with HIV in 2019
  • The number of people living with HIV in 2020 was estimated at 29,090
  • Around 2,610 people were unaware they are HIV positive in 2020
  • Most HIV transmission in Australia occurs when one partner is infected but does not know
  • 58% of HIV cases in 2020 were men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • 24% of cases in 2020 were in those who identify as heterosexual

Getting tested for HIV with Better2Know

Better2Know is the world’s leading provider of private sexual health testing services.  If you are worried about your HIV status, then Better2Know can help.  Our 28 day HIV test looks for the HIV 1 and HIV 2 antibodies as well as the p24 Antigen.  This test should be taken at least 28 days after an incident of concern.

Better2Know also has a range of comprehensive screens which test for HIV, along with many of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).  This includes our Platinum screen which tests for HIV 1 and 2 and the p24 antigen, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Herpes I/II, Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Trichomonas and Urine for Microscopy and Culture (UCEM).

You can book your appointment by clicking the ‘book now’ button or calling our patient services team on the number at the top of this page.   We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Mike has been delivering world class Sexually Transmitted Infections testing services to Better2Know patients around the world for over ten years. He has written extensively on the subject, including numerous blogs for Better2Know which are designed to demystify the complex intricacies of sexual health testing. Mike wants to help his readers understand the risks they take in their daily sexual lives and provide the information they need when choosing an STI or STD test in a clear, concise and understandable way. Mike is particularly interested in writing about viral STIs like HIV and Hepatitis, as these infections can have a devastating impact on people’s lives if they are not diagnosed quickly. Only through being well informed can you best care for your health, and Mike is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience to help you and all his readers lead a happier, healthier life.