2015 – What a year. While it may have ended some months ago and we’re well into the swing of 2016, who could forget Caitlyn Jenner’s iconic Vanity Fair front cover, the #IceBucketChallenge and (potential spoiler alert!) Jon Snow’s dramatic death in the finale of Game of Thrones.
There certainly were some incredible events from the year that was. From an HIV perspective in NSW, there were also been some big findings and progress made towards ending the epidemic, taken from the recently published NSW Health Annual 2015 HIV Data Report.
Testing figures at record highs
Last year, nearly 500,000 HIV tests were performed in NSW which represents a 7% increase compared to 2014, 12% compared to 2013 and 19% compared to 2012. Within public sexual health clinics, there was a whopping 32% increase compared to 2014 which is a phenomenal achievement.
ACON’s four a[TEST] sites which offer free and confidential HIV testing for gay men in Sydney performed 5,848 rapid HIV tests combined, a colossal result that reflects the community’s growing favour towards the service.
People are getting on treatment quicker
The gap between diagnosis and commencement of treatment has reduced with the proportion of people newly diagnosed to start treatment within six months of diagnosis, going from 60% in 2013 to 82% in the first half of 2015. This means that people are taking up treatment sooner which is great news for everyone given the many health and preventative benefits early treatment has.
Overall, 92% of people living with HIV were reported to be on treatment which represents a 3% increase compared to 2014 and another fantastic result.
No dramatic jumps with the number of new infections
350 new HIV infections were reported for the Year of the Sheep which, compared to the past 2 years, is a stable figure. Equating to nearly one new infection every day, there’s plenty of room for improvement and still a lot to be done if we are to see the virtual elimination of HIV in NSW by 2020.