Fulfilling prophecy? Sexually transmitted infections and HIV in Indigenous people in Western Australia

Michael R Wright, Carolien M Giele, Phyll R Dance, Sandra C Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To compare trends and rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Western Australia.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Analysis of WA notification data for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and primary and secondary syphilis in 2002, and for HIV infections from 1983 to 2002.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infection by Indigenous status.

RESULTS: In 2002, there were 3046 notifications for chlamydia, 1380 for gonorrhoea and 64 for syphilis. When information on Indigenous status was available, Indigenous people accounted for 41% of chlamydia and 76% of gonorrhoea notifications, with Indigenous:non-Indigenous age-standardised rate ratios of 16 (95% CI, 14-17) and 77 (95% CI, 67-88), respectively. Indigenous people accounted for 90.6% of syphilis notifications (age-standardised Indigenous:non-Indigenous rate ratio, 242 [95% CI, 104-561]). From 1985 to 2002, HIV notification rates for non-Indigenous people in WA declined and rates for Indigenous people increased. From 1994 to 2002, there were 421 notifications of HIV infection in WA residents, 52 (12.4%) in Indigenous people and 369 (87.6%) in non-Indigenous people. Indigenous people accounted for 39% and 6.2% of all notifications in WA females and males, respectively. The Indigenous:non-Indigenous rate ratios were 18 (95% CI, 12-29) for females and 2 (95% CI, 1-3) for males.

CONCLUSIONS: Indigenous Western Australians are at greater risk of HIV transmission than non-Indigenous people. Strategies to prevent further HIV infection in Indigenous Australians should include control of sexually transmitted infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-128
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005


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