A survey has found that people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced HIV disease in Australia.
Although late diagnosis was also a problem among many study participants from Anglo-Australian backgrounds.
What is most troubling perhaps is that for a vast majority of CALD participants in the study, their HIV diagnosis was their first ever HIV test. Many participants did not expect a positive result, even those who had experienced HIV-related symptoms and were quite unwell.
"This is worrying," says lead author Dr Augustine Asante from the Centre for Social Research in Health. "It shows the level at which people are testing and illustrates how low many CALD people perceive their risk of contracting HIV to be."
He expected that HIV-related stigma would be an issue for this target group but was surprised by how high it was in these communities.
One of the recommendations of the study is to run regular surveillance activities within CALD communities similar to those that are run in the gay community.
Dr Asante also encourages doctors who work with CALD communities where HIV diagnoses are highest to be more proactive in offering regular HIV testing to their patients.
"People will accept that if this is a problem and someone is doing something about it then it is for the good of the community," he said.