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When was your last HIV check?

Murrumbidgee Local Health District is encouraging people to have a test during HIV Testing Week from June 1-7 with testing now easier and faster than ever before.

HIV & Related Programs (HARP) Manager Alison Nikitas said around 10 per cent of people with HIV in NSW may be unaware they have the virus, a statistic NSW Health hopes to change.

“As well as risking their own health, people with undiagnosed HIV infection are at risk of passing the virus on to others without knowing,” Ms Nikitas said.

However, the statistics are improving. The number of HIV tests done in NSW continues to increase with over 500,000 tests conducted in 2016, a seven per cent increase on the number of tests in 2015.

To make testing for HIV easier, the NSW Government has launched the Dried Blood Spot HIV Test which can be ordered online and is a free, easy, private and accurate way to test for HIV at home.

Currently the test is available to men who have had sex with men; people who were born in a region where HIV is more common (Africa or Asia); or people who have had a sexual partner from one of these regions. If you don’t fit within one of these groups, having a HIV test at a health service may be more suitable.

“We need people in groups at risk of HIV to test regularly so they can receive early treatment and prevent transmission of HIV to others,”

Most (82 per cent) new HIV infections reported in 2016 were in gay and homosexually-active men, with heterosexual people accounting for 15 per cent. One third of people newly diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed with signs of late infection, which could have been avoided with earlier testing.

Ms Nikitas said heterosexual people who may be in an ‘at risk’ group should be tested.

“This includes people from African and Asian countries, and/or those who have had previous sexual partner from one of these countries. Anyone who has had unprotected sex should also be tested.

“Achieving high levels of testing, treatment, and maintaining safe sex practices are key if we are to achieve our ambitious target of ending HIV transmission by 2020”.

People can request HIV testing at their GP or local sexual health service based at Albury, Wagga Wagga and Griffith. 

For information on Dry Blood Spot self-sampling test go to: https://www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au/

For more information on HIV testing, treatment and prevention go to www.health.nsw.gov.au/endinghiv/Pages/default.aspx  or call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink 1800 451 624 www.shil.nsw.gov.au .

For more information on HIV data in NSW in 2016 go to: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/endinghiv/Documents/q4-2016-annual-hiv-data-report.pdf

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