With many safe and innovative HIV tests now available, a reminder to get tested for HIV and 'know your status' this World AIDS Day, 1 December.
This HIV Awareness Week and in the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, NSW Health is reminding people to test for HIV and ‘know your status’ with various high quality HIV testing options now available.
Sydney Local Health District’s Sexual Health Service acting director Professor David Templeton said regular HIV testing is essential.
“Regular HIV testing ensures that all people living with HIV can be identified early and made aware of their diagnosis.
“Once a person is diagnosed, they can start treatment early, improve their health and prevent the virus from being passed on to others.
“The good news is that there are many safe and innovative ways to get a HIV test and the highly effective treatments now available mean people living with HIV can lead healthy, productive and long lives,” Professor Templeton said.
NSW is on track to achieving its goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020, with a 23 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW.
With many people from culturally diverse communities and those born overseas less likely to get tested for HIV, World AIDS Day is a timely reminder of the range of safe ways to get a HIV test.
“HIV testing is easy, safe and confidential. Home testing, fast-track and after hours appointment clinics and peer-led testing clinics for men who have sex with men are all part of the new era in HIV testing in NSW. You can also ask for a test at your GP,” said Professor Templeton.
A dried blood spot test is a free, easy, private and accurate way to test for HIV and hepatitis C at home.
“The home test is as simple as taking a few drops of blood from a finger on a test card and mailing it back for testing. There's no need to visit a doctor, clinic or pathology centre,” he said.
Results are provided via SMS, email or phone call by a nurse from Sexual Health Infolink within two weeks.
Drug Health Services clinics in Sydney Local Health District routinely provide dried blood spot testing for patients.
LGBTI health organisation ACON also runs a community “shop front” service on King Street in Newtown, a[TEST].
a[TEST] is a peer led STI and HIV testing service that runs three afternoons and evenings a week.
Professor Templeton said the less formal environment of a[TEST] appeals to a younger group of people, particularly international students.
“The fact that it’s not like a clinic makes it less confronting for people with fear of stigma,” Professor Templeton said.
Stigma and discrimination remain two of the biggest factors stopping people from being tested as well as fear of the cost of treatment, Dr Simone Herbert, from the District’s Sexual Health Service, said.
“International students and non-Medicare eligible people are often afraid to be tested because they think of all the implications of a positive test and that’s a shame because they can be higher risk,” she said.
“Your results can be kept confidential in the clinic and we can get you on to treatment even if you’re not an Australian citizen.”
Home test kits can be ordered online for people living in NSW over 16 years of age from Africa or Asia, or who have current or previous sexual partners from Africa or Asia, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, people who have ever injected a drug and men who have sex with men.
To order or for more information go to www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au or call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.