The Health Authorities Health Minister Jillian Skinner has announced plans to eliminate the spread of HIV in NSW by 2020.
New “rapid” HIV tests give results within minutes and have been used at events such as the Mardi Gras to aid the awareness of HIV. As a result of the pop-up test centres 103 people were diagnosed with HIV in the first quarter of this year. A slight rise from last year.
“We know that by making testing more accessible and encouraging people in at-risk groups to be tested, the number of new diagnoses will increase before it starts to fall again,” Skinner said.
Director of the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of NSW, John de Wit said that 76 per cent of gay men were tested in the past year. Despite it being the highest testing rate in the last 20 years, he remains concerned about the decline in condom use.
“If anything, it’s going in the wrong direction.” said de Wit.
“We are doing quite well, perhaps better in terms of undiagnosed infection, and getting people on treatment … but we have to do something about driving down unprotected sex.”
The NSW HIV Strategy 2012–2015 was released by the NSW Government to drive down the number of new infections by increasing testing and practicing of safe sex.
According to Ms Skinner, NSW has a strong track record of achievement in preventing the spread of HIV.
“Our investment in the NSW HIV Strategy has helped remove barriers to testing for high risk groups, made testing quicker and more accessible than ever and allowed quicker access to treatment.”
NSW chief medical officer Dr Kerry Chant said more work needs to be done but she is confident that the 2020 target will be met. – Payal Rishisen
News worth celebrating – scene from Mardi Gras 2014.