NSW Health is encouraging people at risk who’ve never been tested for HIV or haven’t had a test for more than a year, to get one done in HIV Awareness Week.
NSW has made significant progress towards the goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020, with a 13 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW from January to September, compared to the previous five year average.
Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said this HIV Awareness Week (23 – 30 November) in the lead up to World AIDS Day (1 December), is a good reminder to take a test.
“HIV testing is easy, private and discreet and there are a variety of HIV testing options available including free tests,” Dr Chant said.
“HIV testing is available at your GP or a sexual health service and is confidential.
“The Dried Blood Spottesting kit is also a private and discreet way to test for HIV and you don’t even need to see your doctor. A test kit is delivered to you and results are sent by text, email or telephone.”
People at risk of HIV, particularly men who have sex with men, can now use a combination of prevention methods to reduce their risk including taking HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and using condoms, which are available for free.
Between January to September 2019, 159 men who had sex with men were diagnosed with HIV in NSW. Of these men, 45 per cent had not had a test in the past 12 months and 18 per cent had never had an HIV test.
“A late HIV diagnosis can be life-threatening and increases the chances of passing on HIV to sexual partners. Early diagnosis means you can receive treatment, live a long, healthy life and prevent transmission to others,” Dr Chant said.
“We are seeing a reduction in transmission as more people are seeking early testing and treatment, and are taking steps to prevent HIV transmission including the use of PrEP.”
The NSW Government has committed $22.4 million in 2019-20 to strengthen testing, treatment and prevention with 47 state-funded Sexual Health Clinics also making testing easily accessible.
For information on HIV testing, visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/hiv-test or call NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 (Free-call).