The Ending HIV Bus is returning to Broken Hill for all the glamour and glitter of the Broken Heel Festival. ACON, NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation, will have trained peers on-site throughout the Festival offering free and confidential HIV and STI screening for those wanting to test or chat about sexual health.
Running from 7-9 September, the Broken Heel Festival takes place in the shining silver city of Broken Hill in the state’s far west, and showcases all of the town’s favourite haunts from the iconic 1994 film Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Jo Lenton, Clinical Nurse Consultant at Far West Local Health District, said the pop up service is all about making testing more accessible and less threatening.
“We know that there are still pockets of gay men and men who have sex with men who are HIV positive and that aren’t aware of it. Knowing your HIV status is important as it mean you can take control of your health,” Mrs Lenton said. “Today HIV is a chronic manageable condition, there is a huge amount of support and treatments are effective. Reducing stress and angst around the testing process is key to keeping testing rates high.”
ACON Acting CEO Karen Price said the Broken Heel Festival provides a great opportunity for HIV and STI testing within a community setting, and to reach people living in regional NSW.
“Offering services to community in non-clinical settings is all about making sexual health testing more accessible and drag performers have always held a special place in the fight to end HIV,” Price said.
“The team will offer a new finger prick HIV test called the dry blood spot test along with full sexual health screening so you can drop by for a quick test and get your results after the Festival.
“ACON is here for the health and wellbeing of our communities’ right across NSW – and we have been proud to be a community partner of the Broken Heel Festival for the last four years.”
ACON will also be co-hosting the first Welcome Here launch party with the Festival on Thursday 6 September from 7pm at The Palace Hotel to kick off the weekend and showcase ACON’s latest inclusion initiative, The Welcome Here Project. The team will also be hosting a photo booth throughout the Festival, distributing hundreds of safe sex packs and providing resources and information in partnership with the Far West local sexual health team.
Broken Heel Festival Director Esther La Rovere said: “We love partnering with ACON and the Far West Local Health District for the Broken Heel Festival. Their work actively reduces HIV and STI stigma, normalises testing and celebrates all of us living proud in the outback. The Silver City is excited to again welcome the diversity of festival-goers to the homeland of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”
The Ending HIV Bus will operate within the Festival from 6pm on Friday at the Opening Night Party, from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, where anyone (18+) can grab a test at the Argent Street and Sulphide St side entrance and again for the Saturday night and finally on Sunday morning 9am-11am.
This initiative is a partnership between ACON, Far West Local Health District, NSW Ministry of Health and the NSW State Reference Lab for HIV.