HIV Support

We’re here to help people with HIV take control of their health by providing up-to-date information as well as a range of programs and services.


Newly Diagnosed With HIV


The START Resource has been written by gay men living with HIV to help you make sense of an HIV diagnosis. START provides clear and concise information to support you through the initial phase of a diagnosis.

START covers topics that are important at diagnosis including treatment, disclosure and building a relationship with a doctor. START also has many useful links to support services across NSW.

Check out the START Resource here.

If you would like to order some copies please email:

HIV Treatment


HIV medications or HIV antiretrovirals (ARVs) are commonly referred to as treatments.

Treatments prevent and reduce long term health issues related to HIV, and recent advances mean that treatments today are easier to take with far fewer side effects.

Your doctor will talk to you about when is a good time for you to start treatment, but the final decision on when to start is always yours.

There’s a growing body of evidence that supports starting treatment as early as possible, as modern treatments have benefits for your health and can help reduce the chance of onwards transmission.

Treatments work best when you maintain a high level of adherence (i.e. at the right time each day).

Find out more about HIV treatments on our Ending HIV website


Collecting your meds – the choice is yours

The Australian Government is expanding options for dispensing HIV medications. From 1 July 2015, people living with HIV (PLHIV) will be able to access HIV medications from chemists.

For more information about expended access options, visit The Choice Is Yours.

HIV Disclosure

Disclosing your HIV status to other people can seem difficult, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Speaking to other people with HIV about their experiences of disclosure can be very helpful, whether it be in relation to sex, relationships, friends, family or the workplace.

ACON provides peer support (both workshops and one-one-one) that can help people with HIV learn more about disclosure.

It is also important to understand the law about HIV sexual disclosure in NSW. The Public Health Act 2010 requires that a person must inform a sexual partner of their HIV status prior to sex – which includes both anal and oral sex – unless they are taking ‘reasonable precautions’ against the transmission of HIV. The definition of ‘reasonable precautions’ has not yet been tested in a NSW court. However, it is likely that using condoms and lube will constitute ‘reasonable precautions’.

Find out more about the law and HIV in NSW on the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre website.


The Disclosure Project


A living book of stories and experiences of disclosure.

Growing everyday as stories of people living with HIV are added, the Disclosure Project is a living multi-media web-based resource enabling individuals to share personal stories of HIV disclosure to help and support other individuals planning to disclose.

The Disclosure Project is based upon peer-to-peer based learning, where someone contemplating disclosing can access a wide range of experiences that will help them find the best tools to help their disclosure be a successful one.

The Disclosure Project is a joint initiative of ACON, the Victorian AIDS Council, Living Positive Victoria and TIM (The Institute of Many).

To find out more visit:

HIV Stigma & Discrimination


“Discrimination is a major challenge to HIV prevention work, in that both the experience and fear of discrimination or stigma inhibits the capacity of both HIV-positive and non HIV-positive people to honestly convey their intentions and their expectations. HIV-negative and unknown-status individuals often deny the possibility of infection and avoid their own responsibility to prevent it through assumptions that are often ill-founded and may be experienced by HIV-positive people as discriminatory or stigmatising.” (Reeders, 2009).

“People with an HIV-negative and unknown status making these sorts of assumptions sometimes show less ability to protect themselves and a lower likelihood of HIV testing than people who acknowledge the complexity and difficulties inherent in sexual negotiation and disclosure.” (Dodds, 2008).

The ENUF campaign aims to seek the experiences of both stigma and resilience in all of its many and various forms from people living with HIV.

The ENUF campaign relies upon your voice and your stories. It is a campaign that relies upon a whole crowd of people thinking about stigma and sharing their experiences.

ENUF is coordinated by Living Positive Victoria.

Find out more about the ENUF campaign

HIV & Sexual Health


Some sexually transmissible infections (STIs) can be more difficult to treat for people with HIV. Also some types of STIs can increase the chances of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.

Some STIs can increase the HIV viral load in cum, pre-cum and anal mucus because the immune system is fighting both the HIV infection as well as the other STI. For an HIV positive man, an increased viral load means an increased health risk, and also makes passing on HIV more likely if you are having sex without condoms.

You can get detailed information about STIs from the Drama Down Under website, a comprehensive online resource covering the most common STIs experienced by gay men.

When someone has both Hep C and HIV, their viral load of HIV can increase, putting their health at risk. It’s therefore important for gay men to educate themselves about Hep C.
Find out more about HIV and Hep C.

STI Testing

Managing your sexual health can be easy. Having a sexual health test when you visit your doctor for your routine HIV check-up is the best way to stay on top of your sexual health. If you notice symptoms of an STI, you can go straight to your doctor or a sexual health centre for treatment.

The more sexually active you are, the more often you should get tested. Knowing you have a sexually transmissible infection (STI) allows you to treat it and also prevent passing on the STI to sexual partners.

Find out more about your nearest sexual heath testing centre

HIV & General Health


People with HIV have a range of health related matters to consider. These include:

  • Having a good relationship with a doctor you feel comfortable with
  • Knowing what HIV treatments are available and which ones are right for you
  • Taking preventative actions like quitting smoking, drinking less, having a healthy diet and getting exercise

The right choices can help us manage or avoid certain conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver or kidney disease and bone density loss.

The Your Body Blueprint website provides comprehensive health information for people with HIV.

HIV & Oral Health


Living with HIV means you should take particular care of your oral health.

Some people may experience a greater frequency of certain oral conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis. Others may experience taste change or dry mouth, or they may find more grinding of their teeth.

Many people with HIV feel more comfortable seeing a dentist who has a history of working with people with HIV.

Free public dental health care is delivered to eligible clients including people with HIV in a number of settings across NSW within Local Health Districts (LHDs).

People with HIV in NSW who hold a Health Care or Pension Card are eligible for free public dental health care. In some LHDs arrangements are made to provide enhanced dental health care for people with HIV.

Find out more about HIV & oral health on the Positive Life NSW website

HIV & Smoking


Smoking is particularly prevalent among people with HIV, who smoke up to three times the rate than the general population.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your health if you smoke even a small number of cigarettes, as people with HIV who smoke are at greater risk of many types of cancers compared to their non-smoking positive peers.

Smoking also increases risk across a range of conditions like heart disease, pneumonia and oral conditions like thrush.

The Albion Centre in Sydney provides information on this topic and runs a quit smoking program.

HIV & Ageing


People with HIV who commence treatment early and who maintain effective control of their HIV viral load have a life expectancy no different from the general population. This has been clearly demonstrated in large studies of people in high income countries with access to best practice HIV clinical care.

However, HIV infection could still damage the immune system. HIV potentially causes premature ageing of the immune system, which means there may be at risk of disease at an earlier age or at slightly increased rates compared to the general population.

Potential health issues may include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, frailty, and neurocognitive deficits.

Find out more about HIV and ageing

Connect With Other People With HIV


Connecting with other people with HIV can be a valuable source of support.

In addition to the workshops and services offered by us, organisations like Positive Life NSW and The Institute of Many (TIM) provide other options.

Positive Life NSW works to promote a positive image of people living with and affected by HIV with the aim of eliminating prejudice, isolation, stigma and discrimination. We provide information and targeted referrals, and advocate to change systems and practices that discriminate against people with HIV, our friends, family and carers in NSW

The Institute of Many (TIM) is a peer-run group for HIV positive people. Acting as a social umbrella, it brings people together to share their experience of living with HIV in an informal, confidential environment in person and online.


Newly Diagnosed With HIV Services


If you’ve been recently diagnosed with HIV, we can help connect you with peer support, workshops, counselling, treatment information and online resources.


We provide free and confidential post-test counselling support for people recently diagnosed with HIV and others affected, including partners, family and friends. Support is also available for people testing for HIV.

Follow-up is provided within one working day and assistance is provided either face-to-face or by phone. This includes providing HIV-related information, linking people into peer support programs and other support services, and supporting people to discuss the needs and feelings associated with a recent diagnosis.

To find out more or to undertake a brief intake assessment, please submit an enquiry or contact your nearest ACON office.

One-On-One Peer Support

One-on-one peer support connects HIV positive people with each other. Peer support is for those who want to speak to someone who knows exactly what they are going through from personal experience. Peers know what it is like to receive a new diagnosis and to live as an HIV positive person.

This is not a counselling service, but one-on-one support with an experienced peer.

To find our more or to speak with a peer, please contact your nearest ACON office.

Genesis Workshops


Genesis is a weekend workshop for gay men who have been diagnosed with HIV within the last two years.

It’s a peer-based workshop which means it’s run by other gay men with HIV who can relate to the experience of a new diagnosis.

Genesis aims to provide participants with practical help and knowledge to manage their HIV diagnosis, gain confidence, build resilience and make informed decisions around the various issues that may confront them after a HIV diagnosis.

Genesis also provides participants with an opportunity to meet other guys in the same situation in a safe, confidential and supportive environment.

Genesis gives participants the opportunity to:

  • Explore HIV and its impact on your life
  • Understand how HIV and your immune system work
  • Get an overview of current and future treatments
  • Understand HIV and its impact on your health, sex life and relationships
  • Work out who to tell about your status and when to tell them
  • Take charge of your own health

Genesis is collaboration between ACON and Positive Life NSW.


“Having been to a Genesis [workshop] at ACON, I’d highly recommend it to anyone unsure about it. They provide a safe and comfortable environment to ask questions and learn more about HIV while connecting with other men in similar situations. The peer support format is probably how I got the most out of it, especially helping me come to the realisation of ‘I’m not alone on this journey.'”

“I completed the Genesis program last year, two months after my diagnosis. I went into the weekend feeling isolated and quite hesitant, not knowing anyone else living with HIV. I left feeling not only educated, but incredibly supported and welcomed by the team at ACON.”

“It took me a while to pluck up the courage to attend this workshop. I wish I had done it sooner, it has made such a change to my life.”

2016 Genesis Workshops

  • December 2-4

2017 Genesis Workshops

  • February 3-5
  • April 7-9
  • June 2-4

Where: ACON Sydney – 414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills 2010
When: Five times a year
Duration: One weekend

For more information please contact our Sydney office 02 9206 2086 or email:

Also visit our website for testimonials:

One-On-One Peer Support

CSN volunteer

One-on-one peer support connects HIV positive people with each other. Peer support is for those who want to speak to someone who knows exactly what they are going through from personal experience. Peers know what it is like to receive a new diagnosis and to live as an HIV positive person.

This is not a counselling service, but one-on-one support with an experienced peer.

For more information or to speak with a peer, please contact your nearest ACON office.

HIV Counselling


We provide FREE and confidential short term counselling (up to 12 sessions) for:

  • People with HIV
  • People at risk of HIV
  • People affected by HIV (e.g. partners, family and friends)
  • People testing for HIV

We prioritise:

  • People newly diagnosed with HIV
  • Financially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing health or relationship needs related to HIV
  • People experiencing the effects of a recent trauma, domestic/family violence or homophobic/transphobic violence

Counsellors use a solutions focused model drawing on a range of approaches to best meet the needs of individuals and couples.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake an intake assessment, please contact your nearest ACON office or to enquire about making an appointment click here.

Care Coordination

care coordination

Our Care Coordinators are allied health professionals who can help clients with multiple and/or complex needs to:

  • Access relevant healthcare and support services
  • Increase their ability to manage their care and treatment
  • Reduce social isolation

Needs may include:

  • HIV
  • Mental health
  • Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Housing
  • Family/domestic violence
  • Finances
  • Legal

Care coordinators work with clients over 3 months to develop a care plan and provide support to help clients achieve their goals and meet their needs

This service is FREE and confidential.

Priority is given to people with HIV, and people at risk or affected by HIV

Our Care Coordinators work in Sydney at our office in Surry Hills as well as the Taylor Square Private Clinic and Holdsworth House Medical Practice in Darlinghurst.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief intake assessment, please contact our Sydney office 02 9206 2000 to enquire about making an appointment click here.


Regional NSW

Our care coordinators also work in the Hunter and Northern Rivers regions of NSW.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment in person or over the phone.

For more information or to undertake a brief assessment please contact our Hunter or Northern Rivers offices or submit an enquiry.

Home-Based Care


Through our Community Support Network (CSN), our team of trained volunteers provide practical assistance to help people with HIV live as independently as possible in their own homes. Services include:

  • Basic cleaning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Doing the laundry
  • Meal preparation
  • Light gardening
  • Transport to and from medical appointments
  • To be eligible for home-based care, clients need a diagnosis of physical or cognitive impairment as a result of, or in the presence of, HIV infection resulting in impaired capacity for independent living.

To access this service, you will need to undergo a brief assessment. One of our CSN Care Liaison Officers will arrange to meet with you, usually at your home, to explain how CSN can help and decide what services are needed.

For more information or to undertake an assessment, please contact your nearest ACON office or to enquire about making an appointment click here.


HIV Health Retreats


We run two FREE health retreats every year for people with HIV – one for gay men living in regional and rural NSW and one for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ngalawi Djardi Health Retreat For Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People Living With HIV

This annual health retreat aims to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with HIV by providing:

  • Culturally appropriate respite and relaxation
  • An opportunity to connect and share stories with other HIV positive people
  • Opportunities to share culture, art and good yarns
  • Access to professional workers, treatments and other support services

The name, Ngalawi Djardi means ‘sit and yarn’ in Dharug language. The retreat is facilitated by Aboriginal workers, with non-Indigenous guest presenters and counsellors. Sessions are voluntary so you can participate in as little or as many sessions as you wish.

The retreat is particularly valuable for those living in rural and regional areas of NSW who may not have regular access to HIV support services in their area.

All aspects of the retreat are conducted in the strictest confidentiality and the privacy of all participants is respected.

Each participant is welcome to bring a support person (partner, friend or family member). The support person need not be Aboriginal or living with HIV.

Our retreats are held in motel-style accommodation in a peaceful location just outside Sydney. All transport from ACON, accommodation and meals are provided. People who need assistance with transport to Sydney are encouraged to talk to us as soon as possible so that we can assist you to seek travel assistance.

The next retreat is scheduled for Friday 30 October to Monday 2 November. Interested people must contact us by 31 September at the details below so that we can assist you with your application.

For more information or to get involved, please contact us at email: or call | 1800 063 060 | (02) 9206 2042


Health Retreat For Regional/Rural Gay Men With HIV


Every year we invite participants from regional/rural NSW and South East Queensland to come to our relaxed bush venue underneath the magnificent Wollumbin with other guys living with HIV in rural NSW.

We’ve been hosting our retreat for guys living with HIV since 1994. The retreat is open to gay men with HIV and their partners.

We expect that gay men of all ages and history of HIV will attend from regional NSW and from SE Queensland. In previous retreats all our participants have contributed to making it a great retreat experience.

It provides a nice mix of structured activities, lots of free time and fantastic food and good company. This year we’ll have a stimulating workshop program on staying fit and well with HIV, and also will be offering yoga classes. We’ll have a great range of leisure activities: canoeing, bushwalking, and ball games.

The retreat is a residential retreat and participants have the choice of accommodation: either sleeping in your own camp gear or in comfortable shared bungalow accommodation. You are able to nominate which when you register.

For more information contact |  02 6622 1555  |  Freecall 1800 633 637

Meal Service


ACON offers a FREE lunch service every Friday for people who are living with HIV.

The meal service offers a friendly space where people can catch up and have a bite to eat while connecting with staff for referrals and/or advice for any questions relating to HIV.

Anyone arriving to the service for the first time should speak to a staff member about signing up for the service.

Where: ACON Café, 414 Elizabeth St, Surry Hill, Sydney
When: Friday: 12pm – 1:30pm


Vitamin Service


Our Vitamin Service is a non-profit program that aims to provide high quality practitioner vitamins and nutritional supplements at the lowest possible price to people with HIV/AIDS, other ACON clients and staff. Clients and staff of our partner organisations (Positive Life, HALC, NUAA, Hepatitis NSW, BGF, etc) are also able to access the service.

Our product list is based on advice from dietitians, HIV/AIDS practitioners and naturopaths. We also take into consideration our community’s input/suggestions.

The service is governed by the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989), which oversees the packaging, sale and advertising of all therapeutic substances. The Vitamin Service works on a script basis because of the Act.

Accessing Our Vitamin Service

To us our Vitamin Service, you will need an ACON Vitamin Script form signed by your dietitian, GP or complementary therapist, indicating which vitamins/supplements suit your needs.

Many practitioners have ACON Vitamin Service scripts in their consulting rooms. These forms are also available at ACON’s reception, or we can post or email you a copy. Alternatively you can download a form. The script expires after six (6) months and is confidentially stored at the service using a non-identifying client code.

As outlined by the Therapeutic Goods Act, we are unable to give advice or recommend the use of any particular product. This is the role of your dietitian, GP or therapist.