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HIV cluster causes concerns -

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ELEANOR HALL: Health authorities in far North Queensland are concerned about what they're calling
an HIV cluster among middle-aged, heterosexual men.

Six men in Cairns have recently been diagnosed with the virus and authorities say it could be the
beginning of a large outbreak.

Donna Field reports that the men contracted HIV while working in Papua New Guinea.

DONNA FIELD: In the past 10 months, six Cairns men have been diagnosed with HIV.

Doctor Darren Russell from the Cairns Sexual Health Unit has had to break the bad news.

DARREN RUSSELL: None of them has been entirely shocked but they've all been quite surprised it's a
difficult thing for anyone to learn.

DONNA FIELD: The men are all middle-aged and half have wives and girlfriends in Australia.

Dr Russell says they contracted HIV after having unprotected sex in Papua New Guinea.

DARREN RUSSELL: You'd have to suspect that given the number of people from Australia, particularly
North Queensland who frequent Papua New Guinea regularly for business or for leisure that there are
more cases that we don't know about yet

DONNA FIELD: The cluster has prompted Queensland Health to commission an education campaign
targeting businessmen working on a fly in fly out basis to Papua New Guinea.

Rowena Harper, an educator with Family Planning Queensland, hopes to have the campaign finished by
the end of the year, but says it's been difficult to get the companies with a travelling workforce

ROWENA HARPER: It did take a while because obviously that's not their highest priority but we have
had some support that's been really useful from a lot of those sort of major employers that are
based, you know between Cairns and PNG.

DONNA FIELD: Gary Dowsett, from the Australia Research Centre in Sex Health and Society at Latrobe
University, says the case highlights the need for constant education.

GARY DOWSETT: There is still an epidemic out there, it's still growing in various parts of the
world and from time to time we probably continue to need to say to Australians who are travelling,
think, be careful where ever you travel HIV is there nowadays.

DONNA FIELD: Dr Russell will speak about the Cairns cluster at the Australasian Society for HIV
Medicine's annual conference in Perth later this week.

Today researchers from the University of New South Wales will release the results of an annual
HIV/AIDS surveillance report at the conference.

It shows HIV rates in Australia have increased by almost 50 per cent in the past eight years.

ELEANOR HALL: Donna Field reporting.