This World AIDS Day (1 December), ACON is urging communities to maintain efforts towards the virtual elimination of HIV transmission in NSW. This includes getting tested regularly for HIV and STIs; continuing to use HIV prevention methods such as PrEP, condoms and Undetectable Viral Load; and initiating treatment as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV.
The latest data from NSW Ministry of Health shows that from January to September 2022, 116 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV, a decrease of 37 per cent compared to the average of the last five years.
This large decline in HIV diagnoses suggests there was reduced transmission of HIV. However, it is likely that the decreases were still driven by the effects of the COVID pandemic response and lower levels of engagement with health services.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said: “We continue to make great strides in the fight against HIV. But World AIDS Day is a timely reminder that HIV is still here and there is still a long way to go – especially as we learn to live with COVID.”
“The effects of the pandemic have impacted our HIV response but as we re-engage our communities with health services, we are seeing rates of HIV testing and PrEP use recover. It’s important that we maintain this momentum to ensure we stay on track, particularly as we head into summer and WorldPride.”
Parkhill added that key to ending HIV is addressing HIV stigma and discrimination.
“Stigma can have profound effects on people living with HIV and prevent those at-risk of infection from getting the support they need,” Parkhill said. “We must work together to address barriers created by stigma.”
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 to raise awareness of the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS.
“Today, we remember the millions of people around the world who have died of an AIDS-related illness as well as those who cared for them. We pay tribute to the courage and resilience of people living with HIV in NSW and around the world and stand in solidarity with them,” Parkhill said.
“Let’s keep up the momentum. This World AIDS Day we can all play our part in ending HIV transmission in NSW and in supporting people living with HIV.”
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
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