Around 10 per cent of HIV positive people in NSW may be unaware they are infected, a statistic NSW Health and Hunter New England Health is looking to change.
NSW Health will stage HIV Testing Week from 1-7 June and will be encouraging at risk people to have a HIV test. Getting a HIV test is now easier and faster than ever before.
#EASYTOUR, a combined testing promotion and music tour will be visiting cities around NSW during HIV testing week to raise awareness of the importance of HIV testing and encouraging gay men and others who are at risk to get an HIV test. The tour will include information on how easy it is to get a HIV test in each local area. #EASYTOUR will visit Newcastle on June 5, at Customs House Plaza from 4pm- 10pm. The #EASYTOUR will be supported by musical performances from Cosima De Vito from 6pm and Kate DeAraugo from 8pm.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said that the government has made significant progress in making HIV testing easier and faster by providing a mix of high quality, safe and innovative HIV testing services such as rapid HIV testing, express clinics, after hours and drop in clinics, faster results and online booking which are all part of a new era in HIV testing in NSW. People can also request a test at their GP.
The #EASYTOUR will run over 7 days, taking in the Sydney metropolitan area, as well as regional areas such as the Illawarra and Hunter. People will be encouraged to show their support for HIV testing on social media by using #EASYTOUR.
“We need to keep HIV testing top of mind. Using music as a platform will help make conversations about sexual health and HIV part of the norm,” Dr Chant said.
Director of Sexual Health Services for Hunter New England Health Dr Nathan Ryder said around 10,500 people in NSW are living with diagnosed HIV infection.
“Increasing testing rates is vital because HIV is generally transmitted by people who don’t know they have it,” he said.
“Many people have not been tested recently, and are possibly transmitting HIV to others.
“During HIV Testing Week, we are encouraging people to check their HIV status, and also support the campaign by posting #EASYTOUR on their social media accounts.”
Dr Chant said most infections reported in 2014 were in gay and homosexually-active men (79 per cent) with heterosexual cases accounting for 14 per cent.
“In 2014, HIV testing has increased both overall in NSW and among high risk groups but more needs to be done.
As well as gay men, heterosexual people who may be at risk of HIV should be tested. This includes people from countries where there are high rates of HIV infection and anyone who has unprotected sex while travelling in any of these countries.
“Achieving high levels of testing, treatment, and maintaining safe sex practices are the key if we are to achieve our ambitious target of ending HIV,” Dr Ryder said.
To find out where to get tested go to: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/sexualhealth/pages/sexual-health-clinics.aspx
For more information on HIV testing, treatment and prevention go to http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/endinghiv or call 1800 451 624