Test key to ending HIV

According to the Murrumbidgee Local Health District new data showed almost half of all people diagnosed with HIV are in the late stage of infection.

MLHD and NSW Health are urging people at risk to be regularly tested and take the first steps to help eradicate the virus.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District want to remind people there are a variety of high-quality, safe HIV testing options now available, including dried blood spot (DBS) self-testing.

“People who may be at risk of HIV are encouraged to get tested. Once a person is diagnosed, they can start treatment to improve their health and prevent the virus from being passed on to others,” MLHD’s HIV and Related Programs Unit (HARP) Manager Alison Nikitas said.

“These days, health professionals treat HIV like any other chronic manageable condition.”

People who may be at risk of HIV are encouraged to get tested.

Alison Nikitas

The latest NSW HIV Strategy Data Report showed 44 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in the first nine months of 2017 were diagnosed at a late stage of infection.

The report also stated heterosexual exposure accounted for 22 percent of all newly reported infections. 

According to the data more than one-third (37 percent) of HIV diagnoses were made by General Practitioners. 

“People should talk to their GP about having a HIV test or contact the NSW Sexual Health Infolink to find the best testing option for them,” Ms Nikitas said.

“Prevention is still essential and condoms are considered the best way to prevent HIV and STIs.”  

In addition to encouraging sexually active individuals NSW Health also recommends testing for:

  • 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;
  • Men and women with multiple partners, or a recent partner change; and
  • People who have sexual contact with someone who is at risk of HIV infection.