A new HIV testing campaign is aiming to significantly increase testing rates among gay and homosexually active men in NSW.
The campaign was launched today on World AIDS Day by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who also released the NSW HIV Strategy 2016 – 2020 which will guide the state’s HIV response for the next five years.
The new Test Often campaign has been developed by ACON and is the next stage of the agency’s multi award-winning Ending HIV initiative, which promotes how men in our community can help eliminate HIV transmission in NSW by 2020.
Increasing HIV testing rates among gay men is a fundamental part of the NSW Government’s HIV Strategy and while NSW Health data shows a 30% increase in the number of HIV tests (in July-September 2015 compared to the same period in 2012), testing rates among gay men need to increase further if the 2020 target is to be met.
The new campaign aims to build on the success of our previous testing campaigns by encouraging gay and homosexually active men to test more often and by addressing the barriers that discourage some gay men from getting tested, such as fear of knowing their status, not having any obvious symptoms, not believing they’re at risk or having other priorities.
To be promoted across NSW via outdoor advertising, gay media and social media, the new campaign features compelling personal stories of 11 men from a range of cultural backgrounds including a transgender man and an Aboriginal man. The stories of five community members will be promoted during the launch phase of the campaign and the other six will be released when the campaign is run again in the lead up to the 2016 Mardi Gras Festival.
ACON President Dr Justin Koonin says the campaign forms part of ACON’s work under the new HIV Strategy, and ACON is looking forward to working with the NSW Government, clinicians, researchers and community partners to implement the Strategy and end HIV.
“Our Ending HIV initiative has made a significant contribution to efforts to end HIV transmission in NSW by 2020. The most recent data from NSW Health shows that HIV diagnoses so far in 2015 are the lowest they’ve been since the same period in 2010. Also, more gay men are testing for HIV than ever before with our a[TEST] community testing facilities in Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and Newtown proving extremely popular with men in our community.
“On the whole, our community is engaged and mobilised around the goal of ending HIV. However we know a significant proportion of those at risk of HIV are either not testing or not testing frequently enough. Given we need to increase rates and frequency of testing if we’re to reach our goal of ending HIV transmission by 2020, we need to break down the barriers that are holding back some men from getting tested and getting tested frequently. We look forward to this new campaign addressing these issues.
“We’re delighted to have Minister Skinner launching our new campaign, as she has shown incredible leadership in relation to HIV over a number of years. We also welcome the Government’s new strategy for ending HIV transmission and we commend the Government’s continued and strong commitment to this vision. The new strategy responds to the most contemporary evidence in the fight against HIV and once again positions NSW as the leader in creating the policy settings that will help to significantly reduce HIV transmission as we move towards the end of the decade.”
Media contact: Andrew Hamadanian, ACON Media and Communication Officer
T: (02) 9206 2044 E: email@example.com M: 0419 555 768
ENDS *LGBTI = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex