The progress made in reducing new HIV infections in NSW should be acknowledged, according to Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, with this weekend’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras reflecting on its history as it marks its 40th anniversary.
This weekend NSW Health is celebrating its continued partnership with ACON, Positive Life NSW and other community partners. This partnership has been critical to the HIV response in NSW since the mid-1980s.
Dr Chant said “The NSW HIV Strategy 2016-2020 sets an ambitious target to virtually eliminate HIV transmission by 2020 and results in the 2017 HIV Data Report, released by NSW Health this week, show we are making progress”.
“Tremendous efforts by this partnership in recent years have contributed to significant reductions in new infections.” she said.
The number of new diagnoses among Australian-born men who have sex with men (MSM) in 2017 was 43 per cent less than the previous six year average.
However, the reduction in HIV diagnoses has only occurred in Australian-born MSM, and the decline has not been seen in overseas born MSM or heterosexual people, and Dr Chant said this confirms the importance of new approaches to engage these groups.
“We need to renew efforts to increase access to innovative HIV testing, prevention and care services in all groups who are at risk of HIV transmission,” she said.
“People should talk to their GP about having a HIV test and discuss prevention options, or they can contact the NSW Sexual Health Infolink.”
NSW Health recommends HIV testing for the following groups:
- those diagnosed with a sexually transmissible infection (STI), or hepatitis B or C
- people who are from or have a partner from a high-prevalence country
- people who have had sex without a condom while traveling in a high-prevalence country
- heterosexual men and women with multiple partners, or a recent partner change
- men who have had sex with other men; and
- people who have sexual contact with someone who is at risk of HIV infection.
NSW has a mix of high quality, safe and innovative HIV testing services options, including the dried blood spot HIV self-sampling service that can be ordered online and taken in the privacy of a person’s home.
Prevention is still essential and condoms remain the best way to prevent HIV and STIs.
For information on HIV testing and living with HIV visit www.health.nsw.gov.au/hiv-test. For more information on Dried Blood Spot HIV test, visit www.HIVtest.health.nsw.gov.au. For confidential information on where to get a HIV test people can call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.