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Get tested: Let's eliminate HIV transmission

27 Nov 2019

 

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) is encouraging people who’ve never been tested for HIV or haven’t had a test for more than a year to get one done.

NBMLHD Sexual Health Promotion Officer, Ben Tart, says there is no better opportunity to take a test than this HIV Awareness Week (23 - 30 November) in the lead up to World AIDS Day (1 December).

“HIV testing is simple and confidential. There are now a variety of HIV tests available including free tests,” says Mr Tart.

“You can get tested at your local GP or sexual health service. Or, if you want to test yourself at home, a free Dried Blood Spot kit can be delivered to you by mail and results are sent back by text, email or phone.

“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 free.”

To mark World AIDS Day, the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District is holding two special events featuring inspiring local speakers.

On Wednesday, 4 December, Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre will be holding a lunch with Gavin Prendergast from ACON and local Tim Coughlin, who will share his time growing up in the region as a gay man, along with the impact and changing nature of HIV.

The following week, on Wednesday, 11 December, Hawkesbury Connect will host a networking lunch.

The lunch will include a Q&A discussion facilitated by Mr Ben Tart, along with ACON’s Gavin Prendergast and Positive Speaker, Paul Caleo.

NSW has made significant progress towards the goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020.

The state has seen a 13 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW between January to September, compared to the previous five year average.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant says this reduction is due to more people seeking early testing and treatment and taking steps to prevent HIV transmission including the use of PrEP.

“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,” says Dr Chant.

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.

“With almost 40 per cent of these men diagnosed with HIV in the late stage of infection, we are urging those at risk to get a test,” says Dr Chant.

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 more details or to RSVP for the NBMLHD HIV events please contact:

Ben Tart on (02) 4734 3329 or via email Ben.Tart@health.nsw.gov.au

More information on HIV testing or call NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 (Free-call)

Ends