NSW Health is encouraging people to have their HIV status checked with testing now easier and faster than ever before.
Manager of HIV and Related Programs (HARP), Ann Ryan said around 10% of people with HIV in NSW may be unaware they have the virus, a statistic NSW Health hopes to change.
“As well as risking their own health, people with undiagnosed HIV infection are at risk of passing the virus on to others without know- ing,” Ann said.
However, the statistics are improving. The number of HIV tests done in NSW continues to increase with over 500,000 tests conduct- ed last year, a 7% increase on the number of tests in 2015.
Nursing Unit Manager Dubbo Sexual Health, Margie Crowley said HIV testing was easier and faster than ever with a high quality, safe and innovative HIV testing ser- vice. To make testing for HIV easier, the NSW Government has launched the Dried Blood Spot HIV test – a free, easy, private and accurate way to test for HIV at home.
“We need people in groups at risk of HIV to test regularly so they can receive early treatment and prevent transmission of HIV to others.”
Most (82%) new HIV infections reported last year were in gay and homosexually- active men, with heterosexual people ac- counting for 15%. One third of people newly diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed with signs of late infection, which could have been avoided with earlier testing.
Margie said heterosexual people who may be in an at risk group should also be tested. “This includes people from African and Asian countries, and/or those who have had previous sexual partners from one of these countries. Anyone who has had unprotected sex should also be tested.”
“All pregnant women should be tested irrespective of risk, as treatment during pregnancy is very effective in preventing infection from mother to child.”
People can request HIV testing at their GP or at their local sexual health service: Dubbo Sexual Health at 203 Brisbane Street, contact number 6841 2489 or Orange Sexual Health at 96 Kite Street on 6392 8600.
Information on Dry Blood Spot self-sampling test at https://www.hivtest.health.nsw. gov.au/. To find out where to get tested go to: www.health.nsw.gov.au/sexualhealth/ pages/sexual-health-clinics.aspx.