WHY TESTING IS KEY TO ENDING HIV?
It all starts with testing. If you are HIV positive, finding out your status and accessing treatment is both a smart move for your health and can drastically reduce your chances of passing on HIV.
It’s critical for all gay men to test more regularly so that HIV can be detected and treatment can be offered as early as possible. So find out your status. Talk to your doctor. Consider starting treatment as soon as you are ready.
Facts and figures: We just don’t test enough
The reality is, we’re just not testing enough. As a community, we’ve become complacent about testing:
- Around 15% of HIV-positive gay men don’t know they have HIV (i.e. are undiagnosed) and it is estimated that those with undiagnosed infection could be disproportionately contributing to as many as a third of the new HIV infections among gay men in Australia each year.
- There has been a gradual downward trend in the proportion of gay men in Australia who have ever been tested for HIV: estimated at 89% in 2011.
- Of those men who have ever been tested, the proportion testing at least once a year has been decreasing: estimated at 61% in 2011.
- Only about a quarter of gay men who should be testing every 3 to 6 months (according to national guidelines) are doing so.
- It is estimated that with every 10% incremental increase in the number of gay men testing annually for HIV, there will be an increase of approximately 13 HIV diagnoses and a decrease of approximately 22 to 27 new infections in Australia each year. Increasing the frequency of testing to multiple times per year will increase these benefits and reduce infections even further.
Why you need to get tested now
We’re putting the call out. If you’re HIV negative, if you haven’t had a test in the last 12 months, or if you’ve never been tested, you need to get tested now. If we can dramatically increase the number of gay men who know their status, we can get HIV-positive men onto early treatment – which in turn will reduce new cases of HIV. For you, that may mean …
- Getting tested at least twice a year.
- Getting tested up to four times a year if you have more than 10 different partners in 6 months.
- Getting tested each time you think you might have been exposed to HIV, keeping in mind the window period during which a test may not pick up a recent infection.
- Making sure you get tested for HIV and other STIs.
We realise this is a big ask but it’s worth it – for yourself and to end HIV. Remember too, it’s getting easier to test.
What’s Rapid Testing?
Rapid HIV testing is currently available at specific locations in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. It’s a fast, free and a gay-friendly way to find out your status.
Instead of waiting days for your results, rapid HIV testing can provide results in approximately 30 minutes or less. The test uses an oral swab or a simple finger prick test. You’ll have your results before you’ve even had time to browse a dog-eared magazine in the waiting room.
For information on the availability of Rapid HIV Testing go to Rapid Testing or contact your local AIDS council. Information on Rapid Testing and other HIV and STI testing is also available at the Where to Get Tested pages on this site.