The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) is encouraging people to get tested during HIV Testing Week to help reach the goal of ending HIV transmission across the state by 2020.
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HIV testing has become faster and easier and a variety of free and confidential services are on offer.
Dried blood spot (DBS) self-testing is a newly available service that can be completed at home, which people have been encouraged to use.
The NSW Ministry of Health has invested $22.4 billion from 2017-18 to strengthen HIV testing, treatment and prevention across the state.
HIV Testing Week runs from 1-7 June and ISLHD Sexual Health Service Director associate professor Katherine Brown said it was important people know their HIV status.
“Knowing your HIV status is a good thing. It means people with HIV can start treatment earlier, which not only has better health outcomes, but can also help prevent it being passed on to others,”she said.
“We are making good progress towards ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020 and last year alone across NSW there was a 19 per cent reduction in the number of men who have sex with men diagnosed with HIV, compared to the average of the past six years.
Associate professor Brown said the fall in HIV notifications in this category shows that more testing, high treatment, condom use, and the addition of the new HIV prevention treatment PrEP, were very effective.
However, she said there was still work to do.
“In 2017, 67 people across NSW were diagnosed with HIV through heterosexual sex. This is a 29 per cent rise compared to the previous six year average,” she said.
“Last year, one in five people diagnosed with HIV in NSW acquired their infection through heterosexual sex.”
During HIV Testing Week (June 1-7) ISLHD has encouraged heterosexual people, particularly those who’ve never been tested before, to get a HIV test. This includes people who’ve had sex when traveling in a country where HIV is common or had sex with someone from a country where HIV is common.
People can get tested at their local GP or Illawarra Sexual Health Service, 4223 8457.
People can also use the new Dried Blood Spot testing service, to order a test go to www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au.
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