In Western Australia, more straight men were diagnosed with HIV than gay men in 2019. It is the first time this has happened since the HIV/AIDS crisis began in the 1980s.
Among men who have sex with men in WA, the number of HIV diagnosis was 51 percent lower this year compared to the average over the previous five years.
However, among straight men it was 21 percent higher, with 26 cases detected in the past 12 months, largely attributed to middle-aged heterosexual identifying men contracting the disease while holidaying in south-east Asia.
On World AIDS Day the WA Health Minister, Roger Cook launched the Going Somewhere? campaign to target and educate at-risk men traveling overseas.
“Going Somewhere? is particularly aimed at men who travel to south-east Asia and who may not be aware of the risk of acquiring and spreading HIV, and other STIs, while on holiday. It reminds men to take precautions, use condoms and visit a GP or sexual health clinic for a check-up when they get home,” Cook said via a WA Health statement.
The campaign features posters and electronic billboards at the international departures area and in men’s toilets, urging people to take condoms with them when they travel, practice safe sex and get tested if they are at risk.
Beyond condom use, WA Health is also urging men having sex in south-east Asia to use PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. The minister said the gay community had set the example for safe sex messaging which he attributed to the falling HIV rates within the community.