Big news has been released today, with the latest quarterly NSW HIV Data Report released by NSW Ministry of Health. While the data report is filled with lots of figures and statistics – an interesting read if you are that way inclined, we thought we’d give you the top three headlines that make this announcement good news for gay and bisexual men living in NSW.
- New HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in NSW continued to fall, marking 12 months of a steady decline. In fact, the data released today shows the lowest number of HIV diagnoses since the early days of the epidemic.
There are many reasons for this decline, but the most important ones can be attributed to the high rates of testing, the impact of NSW’s PrEP implementation trial, – EPIC-NSW – as well as the continued use of condoms, and the number of people on treatment, who now have an undetectable viral load.
- HIV testing rates continue to remain high, already in the first six months of this year there have been 286,626 HIV test performed across NSW. That’s an increase of 33% since 2012. So, if you’ve tested at least twice in the past 12 months, thank you.
No doubt testing for HIV has become easier since the introduction of Rapid HIV testing in many locations throughout NSW, but also more recently with the availability of Dried Blood Spot testing– enabling people who live further away from testing sites to test in the convenience of their own home. Along with local GP’s testing more, this is great – particularly if you live outside of the city.
- More people living with HIV are accessing antiretroviral treatment. Over the past few years, treatment uptake has continued to increase with 95% of people living with HIV now on treatment, many of whom started their treatment within six weeks of being diagnosed. While this is great news for many people, the report sites continuing efforts are needed to retail people with HIV in care and to increase the proportion on treatment.
This is great news, not only are there significant individual health benefits for people living with HIV in accessing early treatment; thanks to two large international studies (PARTNER and Opposites Attract), we know that people living with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load by regularly taking their treatment and checking in with their doctor, remove the risk of passing on HIV to their sex partners.
While these are just a few of highlights, today’s announcement comes as welcomed news, we are starting to see the benefits of our collective efforts. That is, our efforts to test more frequently, to access early treatment, and continuing to stay safe. Together we are all ending HIV in NSW.
If you’d like to read the latest NSW Data HIV Report in full, you can find it here. Alternatively you can read ACON’s media release welcoming this news on the ACON website.