NSW is continuing to progress towards the virtualelimination of HIV transmission, withthe latest report finding 22 per cent fewer notifications in the first threemonths of 2019, than the average for the same period over the previous fiveyears.
The NSW HealthHIV Strategy Data Report shows in 2018, NSW had the lowest annual number ofnotifications on record. At the same time, HIV testing in NSW has continued toincrease.
DrKerry Chant, Chief Health Officer said while the results are encouraging, there is evidence that a small number ofcases 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-ExposureProphylaxis (PrEP) and using condoms”Dr Chant said.
“People who know they have a sexually transmittedinfection also have an obligation under the law to take reasonable precautionsto protect others from infection. For HIV the most effective precaution istaking treatment to suppress the virus so it can’t be passed on to others, aswell as using condoms.
“It’s alsoimportant to get regularly tested. Menwho have sex with men should get tested at least once a year and men withmultiple partners, up to four times per year.”
Inthe first three months of 2019, 52 men who hadsex with men were diagnosed with HIV in NSW. 52 percent had not had a test in the past 12 months and 17 per cent had never had anHIV test.
“A late diagnosis can be life-threatening and increases thechances of HIV being passed on to sexual partners. Testing isdiscreet, confidential and often free – being diagnosed early means you canreceive treatment and live a long and healthylife,” Dr Chant said.
The NSW Governmenthas committed $21.9 million in 2018-19 to strengthen testing, treatment andprevention with 47 state-funded Sexual Health Clinics also making testingeasily accessible.
Testsare available at your local GP or sexual health service. To find out where togo to get tested call the NSW SexualHealth Infolink on 1800 451 624.
Thenew DriedBlood Spot testing kit can be delivered by post and thesample self-collected, with results provided by text, email or phone.
HIV Testing Weekruns from 1 – 7 June. For more information about testing and preventionincluding PrEP go to: www.health.nsw.gov.au/HIV-test.