Indigenous Australia's HIV crisis never happened: five questions to James Ward

Published: November 20, 2014

Original Article:

Tell us about who you are:

My name is James Ward. I am a Pitjantjatjara and Nurrunga man from central and south Australia, with connections to mobs in Kaltukatjara, Ntaria, Point Pearce and Adelaide. I currently live in Alice Springs but from next week will be relocating to Kuarna country in Adelaide. From next week I will be based at the South Australian health and medical research institute, specialising in infectious diseases. I’ll be working on sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses like HIV and viral hepatitis but spanning more broadly into prisoner health and vaccine preventable diseases.

What do you plan to focus on during your week as host of @IndigenousX?:

My focus while hosting IndigenousX will be on raising HIV and related conditions awareness in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. In the early days of HIV when it first hit Australia 30 years ago, we were told a catastrophe would occur among our people. Despite early warnings, this hasn’t eventuated. That should be celebrated but with some considered caution!

For us during the last five years a higher rate of HIV diagnosis has occurred among First Peoples of this land compared to non-Indigenous people, with higher rates of diagnosis occurring among our women and among our people who inject drugs – as well as elevated rates among men who have sex with men.

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