HIV testing the key to ending transmission – World AIDS Day 1 December 2016

World AIDS Day – 1 December 2016

One in six people diagnosed with HIV in NSW report heterosexual exposure, and at least 10 per cent of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus and could unknowingly pass the virus onto others.

These are the surprising statistics Far West Local Health District hopes will prompt more people to get tested for HIV, in the lead up to World AIDS Day on December 1.

Jo Lenton, Clinical Nurse Consultant Sexual Health Far West LHD, said once a person is diagnosed, they can start treatment and improve their health outcome as well as prevent the virus from being passed onto others.

“A person with HIV who is on treatment in 2016 can expect a near-normal life expectancy and to live a healthy life,” said Ms Lenton. “Health professionals now view and treat HIV like any other chronic manageable condition.”

Health professionals across NSW are encouraging people ‘at risk’ of HIV to be tested.

In addition to encouraging gay and homosexually active men to continue regular testing, NSW Health is also encouraging the following groups to get a test:

  • Heterosexual men and women with behaviours putting them at risk of HIV e.g. men who identify as heterosexual but who have sex with men, people who inject drugs.
  • People from countries where there are high rates of HIV and people who have had unprotected sex while travelling.

“It’s important for people to know, it’s never been easier to get testing with HIV testing being fast, free and confidential,” said Ms Lenton.

Drag Bingo Night – Palace Hotel on 29 November

To celebrate World AIDS Day, the Broken Hill Sexual Health Clinic is working in partnership with the local LGBTI Group and are holding a Drag Bingo Night on Tuesday, 29 November at the Palace Hotel starting at 7.30pm. Red ribbons and World AIDS Day resources will be available. Red ribbons will also be available at Primary Health at the Broken Hill Health Service.

Dareton Primary Health staff will be promoting World AIDS Day with staff wearing red to work and red ribbons will be placed on the fence outside of the office. Condoms and red ribbons will be available to all who attend the centre on that day.   

Around 10,000 people are currently living in NSW with diagnosed HIV infection. Most new HIV infections reported in 2015 were in homosexually active men (81 per cent) with heterosexual exposure accounting for 15 per cent of all newly reported infections. Almost a third (29 per cent) of people were diagnosed at a late stage of infection.

“Many new HIV infections come from people who do not know that they have HIV. HIV testing is essential to ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020,” said Ms Lenton. “Sixty-four per cent of HIV diagnoses in NSW in 2015 were made by services other than sexual health clinics. Forty-seven per cent of those diagnoses were made by GPs.”

Peak professional bodies such as The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association support the campaign for more HIV testing among a diverse range of patient groups.

HIV testing is available at a range of different health services:

  • Sexual Health Clinics
  • Aboriginal Medical Services
  • GPs

In the Far West LHD, the Broken Hill Sexual Health Clinics will be offering drop-in clinics and by appointment.

Further information about HIV testing venues and testing times is available from Broken Hill Sexual Health Clinic by calling 08 8080 1554 and Dareton Sexual Health Clinic by calling 03 5021 7200.

For confidential information on where to get a HIV test people can call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624. In the lead up to World AIDS Day visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/hiv-test to learn more about HIV testing and living with HIV.

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