26 September 2023

Calls to boost HIV testing

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NSW Health is urging anyone at risk of HIV to speak to a healthcare professional about the many testing and prevention options available as testing rates remain below pre-pandemic levels.

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the State had made great progress towards eliminating HIV transmission but there was more work to do to return testing numbers to where they were before COVID-19.

Dr Chant said that from January to September this year, 116 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV.

“While this is a decrease of 37 per cent compared to the average for the last five years, that decline is still likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response and lower levels of engagement with health services,” Dr Chant said.

“Heading into summer, we are reminding the community that it has never been easier to test with a wide variety of options available,” she said.

“The numbers of people returning for testing and taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP, for HIV prevention are much higher in the last few months, which is terrific, but we still have work to do to return those testing numbers to where they were before COVID-19.”

Dr Chant said people could be tested easily and confidentially at their local GP or sexual health service.

She said there were also more online and home-based testing options, including Dried Blood Spot test, a free finger prick test which is mailed to people, and self-test kits which are available in some pharmacies.

“That’s why we are urging people to test for HIV if you think you are at risk, start treatment if you are diagnosed with HIV, or consider PrEP if you are HIV-negative,” the Chief Health Officer said.

“Starting early treatment enables people who are HIV positive to reduce their viral load to an undetectable level,” she said.

“This enables them to enjoy a long healthy life and protect others within their community.”

Further information on HIV testing and prevention options can be accessed at this PS News link.

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