As we near the end of 2016 and look back at the year that was, one could say that the last 12 months was a calendar full of events. We applauded Leonardo DiCaprio finally get his Oscar win, saw the world go Pikachu for Pokemon Go, bid farewell to music legends Prince and Bowie and were left speechless after the results of the Brexit referendum and the US Presidential Election. 2016 certainly wasn’t a quiet year.
Locally, the fight to end the HIV epidemic also saw some big moves and shakes. Let’s take a trip down memory lane…
ACON shows their pink bits
We turned Bondi pink during Mardi Gras and saw the return of the Giant Condom to remind the community to ‘slip one on’. The events which formed part of the Ending HIV Stay Safe campaign saw hundreds of pink inflatable rings cover Bondi Beach, all under the watch of four hunky ‘lifesavers’.
EPIC-NSW puts PrEP in the spotlight
The launch of the EPIC-NSW Study saw PrEP take centre stage. Thousands of gay men and others at high risk of HIV were given access to this game-changing drug that had already garnered impressive results internationally. Along with similar trials in Victoria and Queensland, access to PrEP continues to grow in Australia as an effective tool to prevent HIV.
Truvada gets approved for PrEP by TGA
In May this year we welcomed an announcement from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) that Truvada, the brand name used as PrEP, could be used as a means of HIV prevention. While there is still some work to be done before it is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS), this takes us one step closer to expanding access to PrEP for everyone.
We have more options than ever to test for HIV
The recent launch of Dried Blood Spot (DBS) testing will help those who may not have easy access to an HIV testing service to know their status – and all in the comfort of their own home. Additionally, the continued success of ACON’s rapid HIV testing service, a[TEST], continues to prove itself as a preferred choice amongst gay men with the Oxford Street site achieving 10,000 tests last month.
Data says we are on the right track
One of the standout results from the latest NSW HIV data report for the third quarter was the drop in new HIV cases compared to the average over the last five years. This finding is sure evidence that advances in HIV prevention and testing technologies combined with the support of the community to adopt them is taking effect.
As we move into the new year let’s not become complacent, but inspired. By continuing to foster good, healthy attitudes and behaviours towards testing, treatment and safe sex we can achieve a future free of HIV.
Bring on 2017!