Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) has joined various education, prevention as well testing and treatment programs across NSW to commemorate World AIDS Day.
The Byron Light House will be lit red again during 30 November – 2 December 2015 and Desert Migration, a new documentary about long term survivors of HIV/AIDS, will be screened at Lismore Star Court on 3 December and Byron Bay Pig House on 4 December.
Jenny Heslop, Manager of North Coast HIV and Related Programs (HARP) said, “This year’s World AIDS Day theme for NSW is ‘Ending HIV’ and focuses on the three key areas of Testing More, Treating Early and Prevention.
“Preventing HIV is still as important as ever. HIV testing leads to early detection and allows early uptake of treatment, which improves individual health and prevents transmission to others,” Ms Heslop said.
NSW has made significant progress in increasing HIV testing, treatment uptake among people with diagnosed HIV and strengthening prevention efforts, although it is estimated that around 14 per cent of people with HIV are undiagnosed.
More people are testing and accessing support services than ever before, but there’s still more work to be done to ensure timely diagnoses and enable access to early treatment uptake, highlighting the need for people to test and test more often. HIV testing is easier and more accessible than ever before. HIV can affect people of all ages, genders, races, and cultures.
“The most effective way for people to protect themselves and their partners is to consistently use condoms with sexual partners and have regular HIV and STI testing,” Ms Heslop said.
Early treatment is a key to an effective response to HIV. Most people receiving treatment in Australia have a similar life expectancy to people without HIV. In NSW, over 90% of people with HIV attending public HIV and sexual health clinics are now on treatment.
“World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to address the HIV-related stigma that still persists in Australia, undermining prevention, testing and treatment efforts and causing social isolation for many people living with HIV,” Ms Heslop explained.
For information on World AIDS Day and local events, visit: http://www.worldaidsday.org.au/
For information on HIV and HIV testing, visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/HIV_AIDS.aspx