Around 10 per cent of HIV positive people in NSW may be unaware they are infected, a statistic NSW Health is looking to change.

NSW Health will stage HIV Testing Week from 1-7 June and will be encouraging at risk people to have a HIV test. Getting a HIV test is now easier and faster than ever before.

#EASYTOUR, a combined testing promotion and music tour will be visiting cities around NSW during HIV testing week to raise awareness of the importance of HIV testing and encouraging gay men and others, who are at risk to get an HIV test. The tour will include information on how easy it is to get a HIV test in each local area.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said that the government has made significant progress in making HIV testing easier and faster by providing a mix of high quality, safe and innovative HIV testing services such as rapid HIV testing, express clinics, after hours and drop in clinics, faster results and online booking, which are all part of a new era in HIV testing in NSW. People can also request a test at their GP.

Jenny Heslop, Manager of North Coast HIV & Related Programs said: “We need to keep HIV testing on the agenda and not become complacent. It is equally important for regional communities to remain focussed and not think HIV is only a matter for larger cities and metropolitan areas”.

“We know there are around 10,500 people in living in NSW who have been diagnosed with HIV infection,” Ms Heslop said.

Lismore Sexual Health Service in collaboration with ACON Northern Rivers will be hosting a BBQ and HIV drop in clinic on Saturday 6th June from 1pm to 5pm at Lismore Sexual Health in the lead up to the Tropical Fruits Dance party that night.

“Increasing testing rates is vital because HIV is generally transmitted by people who don’t know they have been exposed to HIV and haven’t recently been tested. During HIV Testing Week, we are encouraging people to check their HIV status by attending a local Sexual Health Clinic or GP,” Ms Heslop explained.

Dr Chant said most infections reported in 2014 were in gay and homosexually-active men (79 per cent) with heterosexual cases accounting for 14 per cent. In 2014, HIV testing has increased both overall in NSW and among high risk groups but more needs to be done”.

As well as gay men, heterosexual people who may be at risk of HIV should be tested. This includes people from countries, where there are high rates of HIV infection and anyone who has unprotected sex while travelling in any of these countries. Anyone who has had unprotected sex with a high risk person should also be tested.

“Achieving high levels of testing, treatment, and maintaining safe sex practices are the key if we are to achieve our ambitious target of ending HIV,” Dr Chant said.

To find out where to get tested go to: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/sexualhealth/pages/sexual-health-clinics.aspx.

For more information on HIV testing, treatment and prevention call:

1800 451 624

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