Gay men are voting with their feet, increasingly preferring to get tested by peers in community-operated spaces, according to figures released by ACON to mark HIV Testing Week (June 1 – 7).
Through its network of peer-led rapid HIV testing sites across Sydney and NSW, ACON has provided close to 4000 rapid HIV tests over the last two years, with 1000 of these tests being conducted at the new a[TEST] Oxford St site in Sydney in just the last three months.
Operated in partnership with local sexual health clinicians, ACON’s community-based testing facilities are staffed by gay men and are in places that are easily accessed by gay men.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says making HIV testing fast, free, convenient and culturally appropriate has been the key to the success of community-based testing. “The latest data from the NSW Ministry of Health shows that HIV testing has continued to increase both overall in NSW and among high risk populations,” Mr Parkill said.
“In fact, the figures show that 76 per cent of gay men in Sydney had an HIV test in the last 12 months, the highest figure since this data started being collected in 1996. This is very encouraging and it demonstrates that increasing testing options leads to increased testing rates.”
“HIV Testing Week offers a great opportunity to thank gay men for embracing our a[TEST] services and heeding the call to help end HIV by testing more. Once people know their HIV status, they can take action to improve their health outcomes and prevent passing on the virus.
“The importance of testing has also been reinforced by the release of the START study, which has provided the most conclusive scientific evidence yet that if you have HIV you should consider starting treatment immediately, as delaying treatment can have a serious impact on the long term health of an HIV positive person.
“So during HIV Testing Week, we’re encouraging gay men in NSW to book a test or to drop into any one of our testing sites across NSW, because these days it’s easy as to get tested and help end HIV.”
ACON is supporting HIV Testing Week with the following initiatives:
The Easy Tour is a series of community concerts featuring Australian Idol alumni Kate DeAraugo, Paulini and Emily Williams as well as Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham. The free shows are designed to promote testing and nearby testing sites in Surry Hills, Bondi, Newtown, Campbelltown, Parramatta, Wollongong and Newcastle. Come along, enjoy the music and help us spread the testing message by tweeting or posting photos on Instagram from this event using #endinghiv.
For more information, please visit: www.endinghiv.org.au/nsw
Sydney (Thu 4 + Fri 5 June)
Late night testing until 9pm at our a[TEST] site at 167 Oxford St, Darlinghurst.
Lismore (Sat 6 June, 1pm – 5pm)
Pop-up rapid testing clinic with ACON peer educators and a free sausage sizzle.
- Lismore Sexual Health Service, 4 Shepherd Lane, Lismore.
Newcastle (June 1 – 5)
Drop in rapid HIV testing at the Pacific Clinic as well as our office in Newcastle
- Pacific Clinic (Lv 2, 670 Hunter St, Newcastle): 1 – 5 June
- ACON Hunter (129 Maitland Rd, Islington) – Tue 2, 3:30pm – 6:30pm + Thu 4, 9:30am – 3:30pm
Wollongong (Thu 4 June, 5:30 – 9pm)
‘Easy Tour’ Wollongong (Crown Street mall / Eatstreetmarkets)
Andrew Hamadanian, ACON Media & Communication Officer
E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: (02) 9206 2044 M: 0419 555 768