HIV rates spiral with FIFO boom

RESOURCES boom areas with fly-in fly-out employees are experiencing spiralling HIV virus rates.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said on Wednesday the virus was becoming a "serious and growing problem" in FIFO communities where sex workers were operating.

"If you're dealing with HIV aids and sexually-transmitted infections in areas where you have sex workers operating, whether the general community or FIFO, we need to raise awareness," he said.

Mr Springborg, who would not rule out bringing shocking ad campaigns most prevalent in the 1980s to our TV screens to combat the problem, also said 20% of the state's HIV cases related to heterosexual Queenslanders and should not be ignored as a homosexual problem.

He sought nominations to sit on the state's special Ministerial Advisory Committee to immediately review all HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention strategies and give advice on how better to invest health advocacy funds in the area.

Queenslanders with an interest or expertise in HIV/AIDS are asked to submit applications by June 8.

The comments came after the minister last week expressed alarm HIV diagnosis rates in Queensland had doubled over the past 10 years.

"The committee would provide independent advice to me on HIV prevention and awareness in Queensland," he said.

"It will also be responsible for advising me on how best to allocate the HIV/AIDS budget to future to minimise HIV transmission."

Mr Springborg said HIV diagnosis rates had doubled in the past decade from 2.7 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 5.4 in 2010.

"This is the highest number of people diagnosed with HIV infection in Queensland since figures became available in 1984," he said.

For more information or to obtain an application kit phone Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Branch on 3328 9754 or email HAHCSH@health.qld.gov.au.



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