24 May 2019
NSW is continuing to progress towards the virtual elimination of HIV transmission, with the latest report finding 22 per cent fewer notifications in the first three months of 2019, than the average for the same period over the previous five years.

The NSW Health HIV Strategy Data Report shows in 2018, NSW had the lowest annual number of notifications on record. At the same time, HIV testing in NSW has continued to increase.

Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer said while the results are encouraging, there is evidence that a small number of cases of recent infections in NSW were linked.

“It is vital that people at risk of HIV infection, particularly men who have sex with men, take precautions to protect themselves. This includes taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and using condoms” Dr Chant said.

“People who know they have a sexually transmitted infection also have an obligation under the law to take reasonable precautions to protect others from infection. For HIV the most effective precaution is taking treatment to suppress the virus so it can’t be passed on to others, as well as using condoms.

“It’s also important to get regularly tested. Men who have sex with men should get tested at least once a year and men with multiple partners, up to four times per year.”

In the first three months of 2019, 52 men who had sex with men were diagnosed with HIV in NSW. 52 per cent had not had a test in the past 12 months and 17 per cent had never had an HIV test.

“A late diagnosis can be life-threatening and increases the chances of HIV being passed on to sexual partners. Testing is discreet, confidential and often free - being diagnosed early means you can receive treatment and live a long and healthy life,” Dr Chant said.

The NSW Government has committed $21.9 million in 2018-19 to strengthen testing, treatment and prevention with 47 state-funded Sexual Health Clinics also making testing easily accessible.

Tests are available at your local GP or sexual health service. To find out where to go to get tested call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.

The new Dried Blood Spot testing kit can be delivered by post and the sample self-collected, with results provided by text, email or phone.

HIV Testing Week runs from 1 – 7 June. For more information about testing and prevention including PrEP go to: www.health.nsw.gov.au/HIV-test.