The Sixth National HIV Strategy

5.3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Page last updated: July 2010

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations have rates of HIV similar to the general population. Although around half of new infections in this population are in homosexual men, and almost a third of diagnoses are reported among women, the proportion of infections in people who inject drugs continues to increase. The potential remains for an acceleration of the epidemic among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially given:

  • the geographical, cultural and social circumstances of these communities, including the high mobility between them, lower health literacy, and issues such as shame and underlying poor health status
  • sustained high prevalence of viral and bacterial STIs in many remote and very remote communities
  • the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women in prisons and juvenile detention
  • limited access to culturally appropriate services, including primary healthcare services for many communities
  • higher rates of injecting drug use and sharing of injecting and other equipment.