HIV positive tests at Coronial Services in Victoria 1989-1996: lessons for HIV surveillance

S C Thompson, A Manjikian, A Ambrose, L A Ireland, E M Stevenson

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Results of routine testing at other sites can supplement surveillance of the HIV epidemic in Australia which is largely based upon voluntary testing. Since 1989, systematic onsite HIV testing has been undertaken on all bodies taken to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM). Information was collected on all cases of HIV infection detected at VIFM between 1989 and 1996, and matched to surveillance databases. In 8 years, 75 people were diagnosed with HIV; all except one were male. The age range was 14-70 years, mean 37.4 years. The major causes of death were suicide 35%, AIDS 21%, drug toxicity 16%, natural causes 12% and injury 7%. The major exposure categories were male homosexual 51%, male bisexual 11%, homosexual/bisexual IDU 16%, IDU other 8%, and haemophiliac 7%. For only two was exposure information unavailable. Seropositivity for anti-HCV and HBsAg was 37% and 11% respectively. The deceased was recorded as having HIV/AIDS on the police report in 73% of cases, and at least 90% of subjects had been diagnosed with HIV prior to their death. The study suggests there is relatively little undiagnosed HIV infection in Victoria, that HIV infection has not moved outside traditional risk groups, and that many tests for HIV are undertaken using false namecodes. Many patients could not be matched on the HIV/AIDS databases, identifying a problem with HIV surveillance systems in Victoria, and the need to capture all information on HIV positives detected at VIFM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-535
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998


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