New data out today shows promising signs of a decline in HIV transmission in NSW.
The 2016 NSW Annual Data report shows 317 NSW residents were notified with HIV last year, the lowest annual count in more than five years. This was despite a 21 percent jump in the number of HIV tests conducted in people at risk in public sexual health clinics compared with the previous year.
NSW Chief Health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the latest figures were an encouraging sign of the progress being made toward the state’s ambitious goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020.
"The decline in new diagnoses in 2016, along with increased levels of HIV testing in high risk groups, suggests HIV may be declining," Dr Chant said.
"This is reassuring but further efforts are still needed if we are to achieve the NSW HIV Strategy 2016-2020 goal."
"It is timely during Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras to remind people to get tested and seek treatment. We also advise people follow safe sex practices, using condoms to protect against HIV and other STIs, and to seek advice about PrEP medications if they are at high risk of HIV infection."
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of antiretroviral drugs traditionally used to treat HIV infection, to prevent the infection in those at high risk of the virus. Studies have shown PrEP is safe and very effective, offering up to 99 per cent protection for homosexually active men and 94 per cent protection for women, if taken every day.
In March last year, NSW launched the landmark trial, EPIC-NSW (Expanded PrEP Implementation in Community), becoming the first state in Australia to implement a rapid and large-scale trial of this new HIV prevention strategy.
"One year on, more than five thousand people at high risk of HIV infection are now being treated at 21 clinics across NSW," Dr Chant said.
"And enrolment of high risk people is continuing."
The EPIC-NSW study is led by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Australia and conducted in partnership with NSW Health, public and private sector clinicians and community organisations.
For information on EPIC-NSW contact the PrEP Info Service on 1800 451 624 or visit the EPIC-NSW Study website at www.epic-nswstudy.org.au.
NSW Health Public Affairs Unit
Phone : (02) 9391 9121
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