Kimberley Warren (17), Luther Rohde (16), Caty Golder (18), Jessica Fuller (17) and James Balsillie (7), discussed AIDS awareness among local teens.
Kimberley Warren (17), Luther Rohde (16), Caty Golder (18), Jessica Fuller (17) and James Balsillie (7), discussed AIDS awareness among local teens. Kerry Thomas

AIDS cases on the rise

HIV is still here.

That is the theme of World AIDS Day today, reminding people that it is not a disease that disappeared in the 1980s.

Queensland Positive People general manager Simon O'Connor said although some amazing advances had been made in the field of HIV treatment, people could not become complacent about the disease.

"While it is still not curable, it has come from being a death sentence to being a manageable chronic illness," Mr O'Connor said.

Statistics show the disease is still a health issue with an estimated 1893 people living with HIV/AIDS accessing care in Queensland last year.

There was 206 Queenslanders diagnosed with HIV infection in 2010 and 22 notifications of new AIDS diagnoses.

Mr O'Connor said reasons for people becoming complacent included the fact it was more visible in the 1980s.

"You don't see it anymore, it has become invisible," he said.

A group of Gladstone teenagers would agree with Mr O'Connor.

The group said AIDS was not something they ever worried about happening to them or even believed it could happen to them because they had the perception it was a "Third World disease".

"We didn't realise it was in the western countries so much," Caty Golder said.

"It's something you always know is out there but you don't worry about it," Jessica Fuller said.

Although they all knew what AIDS was Ms Fuller said they had not had a great deal of education on the subject.

"In our younger grades as part of sex education we studied it quite briefly but over the years it's not something we study a lot," Ms Fuller said.

Ms Fuller said she knew all sexually transmitted infections were on the rise but "AIDS is just the most scary".

The one thing the teens said they all knew was to avoid the disease people should practise safe sex.

"Stay well away from things that could transmit bodily fluids and stay away from syringes," James Balsillie added.

 

HIV/AIDS stats and facts

  • HIV/AIDS is a global emergency claiming more than 5000 lives every day
  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is the virus known to cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
  • HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids in particular blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. The most common route of transmission in Australia is unprotected sexual intercourse
  • In 2010, 206 Queenslanders were diagnosed with HIV infection. This is the highest number of HIV notifications reported since 1984
  • Since 2005 in Queensland there has been an increasing trend in HIV notifications in people from a high-prevalence country. In 2005 there were seven notifications, rising to 30 notifications in 2010
  • Sexually active people should have a regular sexual health check-up at least every six months

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