With the latest health figures showing a continued decline in HIV notifications in NSW, ACON is marking World AIDS Day by urging people to continue efforts to reduce HIV transmissions by testing more, treating early and staying safe.
Data released by NSW Health shows that between January and September 2018 there was a 23 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW. During this time, 191 NSW residents presented with a newly diagnosed HIV infection compared with 249 during the same period in 2013-2017. Among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), there were 45 new HIV diagnoses between July and September 2018, which was 40 per cent fewer than the five-year average of the previous quarter.
Nicolas Parkhill, CEO of ACON – NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health organisation – said the findings showed we are making significant progress towards the goal of eliminating new HIV transmissions in NSW.
“The latest data report showing a sustained downward trend in HIV diagnoses in NSW clearly demonstrates we’re making strides in our efforts to end HIV transmissions,” Mr Parkhill said. “The combination of increased testing, earlier uptake of treatment, and the removal of barriers in accessing PrEP are all contributing to transforming the prevention landscape in NSW.
“But while we are seeing a reduction in new HIV transmissions, this decline is still not being experience by all men in our communities, with the majority of newly diagnosed MSM were born overseas,” Mr Parkhill added. “Moreover, there are still people being diagnosed late or advanced stage infection. This highlights the importance of us all testing often.”
ACON’s latest campaign WE TEST is encouraging gay and bisexual men to continue screening regularly for HIV and STIs.
“Testing has never been easier with a broad range of options now available including sexual health clinics, community-based facilities such as ACON’s a[TEST] and dried blood spot testing as well as the recently approved sale of home-testing kits online,” Mr Parkhill said. “The more gay men and other MSM know about their status, the quicker they can access treatment which can lead to better health outcomes and prevent onward transmission.
“So on World AIDS Day, we’re encouraging gay men to book a test, drop into an a[TEST] clinic, visit their GP or have a testing kit delivered from online because in order to end HIV transmissions in NSW, we need everyone to test more.”
Mr Parkhill added that World AIDS Day also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the impact that HIV and AIDS has had in Australia and around the globe.
“Today on World AIDS Day we remember those who have died of an AIDS-related illness as well as the people and loved ones who cared for them. And we express our solidarity and support for people living with HIV.
Mr Parkhill said NSW residents can also show their support by getting behind ACON’s Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal. Funds raised from the appeal will go towards programs and initiatives that aim to end new HIV transmissions in NSW, and deliver services that support people living with HIV.
“Our volunteers are out in central Sydney and other locations in regional NSW on World AIDS Day selling Red Ribbon merchandise, so please support the Appeal by purchasing a ribbon, pin or wristband. You can also buy ribbons from participating shops and businesses, or you can make a cash donation online at www.redribbonappeal.org.au.”
“This World AIDS Day we can all play our part in ending HIV in NSW, and in supporting people living with HIV. Please join us and make a difference.”
You can help raise funds for programs and services that are vital to ending the HIV epidemic by donating to ACON’s Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal. Volunteers are in central Sydney and other locations in regional NSW on World AIDS Day selling Red Ribbon merchandise. You can also make a cash donation online at www.redribbonappeal.org.au
For more information please contact:
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
E: dalexa[email protected] T: +61 (02) 9206 2044 M: +61 (0)428 477 042