Around 10 per cent of people with HIV in NSW may be unaware they have the virus, which is why NSW Health is urging people to take a test during HIV Testing Week from June 1-7.
Western Sydney Local Health District HIV and Related Programs Unit manager Ashley Ubrihien said testing was now easier and faster than ever before.
“With almost 10,000 people in NSW living with HIV, testing is vital because HIV is often transmitted by people who don’t know they have the virus,” he said.
“As well as risking their own health, people with undiagnosed HIV infections are at risk of passing the virus on to others without knowing.
“High-quality, safe and innovative testing services are available, such as rapid HIV testing, and express clinics, offering faster results, after-hours and drop-in clinics.
“The NSW Government has also launched the Dried Blood Spot HIV test – a free, easy, private and accurate way to test for HIV at home.
“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.”
The number of HIV tests done in NSW continues to increase, with more than 500,000 tests conducted in 2016 – a seven per cent increase from 2015.
Most (82 per cent) new HIV infections reported in 2016 were in homosexually-active men, with heterosexual people accounting for 15 per cent.
A third of people newly diagnosed with HIV were diagnosed with signs of late infection, which could have been avoided with earlier testing.
Mr Ubrihien said heterosexual people who may be in an “at risk” group should also be tested.
“This includes people from African and Asian countries, and/or those who have had previous sexual partners from one of these countries,” he said.
“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 health service.
For information on Dry Blood Spot self-sampling test, visit: https://www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au/
To find out where to get tested, visit: www.health.nsw.gov.au/sexualhealth/pages/sexual-health-clinics.aspx. For more information on HIV testing, treatment and prevention, visit: www.health.nsw.gov.au/endinghiv/Pages/default.aspx or call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.