#HelpEndHIV: free testing this week

NSW Health is holding HIV Testing Week in the Bega Valley this week, and is encouraging at risk people to have an HIV test.

Around 10 per cent of HIV positive people in NSW may be unaware they are infected; a statistic NSW Health is desperate to change.

All tests are free and confidential, and are now faster and easier than ever before.  

Evening ‘drop-in clinics' will be conducted at Bega Hospital on Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm, commencing this Thursday, until the end of August.

Testing for HIV and STIs will also be available at other times, and appointments can be made through your GP, the Bega Community Health Centre on 6492 9620, or the Intake Line on 1300 131 562.

NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said that there are a mix of high-quality, safe and innovative HIV testing services being offered across NSW.

Sexual health services, express clinics, after hours and drop-in clinics, faster results and online booking are all part of a new era in HIV testing in NSW.

“Increasing testing rates is vital because HIV is generally transmitted by people who don’t know they have it,” Dr Chant said.

“However, many people have not been tested recently, do not know they are HIV positive, and are possibly transmitting HIV to others.

“During HIV Testing Week, we are encouraging people to check their HIV status, and also support the campaign #HelpEndHIV by posting on their social media accounts. 

“The good news is that in the first three months of 2014, there are a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses in the early stages of the infection than in previous years, suggesting that the increase in testing is picking up more infections earlier.”

Dr Chant said most infections reported in 2013 were in gay and homosexually active men (78 per cent), with heterosexual cases accounting for 17 per cent. 

“In 2013, HIV testing has increased both overall in NSW and among high risk groups but more needs to be done.

“People can support #Ending-HIV by getting tested and joining our social media campaign.”

People from countries where there are high rates of HIV infection and anyone who has unprotected sex while travelling in any of these countries should also be tested. 

“Achieving high levels of testings, treatment, and maintaining safe sex practice are the key if we are to achieve our ambitious target of ending HIV,” Dr Chant said. 

To find out where to get tested, click here.

For more information on HIV testing, treatment and prevention, click here or call 1800 451 624