Health officials in New South Wales (NSW) are reporting a significant decrease in new HIV diagnoses in Australian-born men who have sex with men early in 2018.
The latest NSW Health data shows the number of new HIV diagnoses in Australian-born gay and bisexual men dropped by 48 per cent in the first three months of 2018 compared to the average number for the same period in the previous five years.
There has also been an overall 14 per cent decline in new HIV diagnoses across NSW in January to March 2018 compared to the same period in the previous five years as the State moves closer towards its aim of ending HIV transmission by 2020.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW Health is encouraging people, particularly those who’ve never been tested before, to get a HIV test during HIV Testing Week (June 1-7).
“NSW Health is working hard to reach the goal of eliminating HIV transmission over the next two years,” Dr Chant said.
”These results show more testing, high uptake of treatment in people with HIV and the addition of the new HIV prevention tool PrEP alongside condom use are having an impact.
“In 2017-18, the NSW Ministry of Health is investing $22.4 million in services to strengthen HIV testing, treatment and prevention across the State.”
Dr Chant said while the first quarter results in the HIV Strategy Data report were encouraging, there was still more work to be done.
“Nearly 70 per cent of men who have sex with men who were diagnosed with HIV in January to March 2018 had their previous HIV test more than 12 months prior to their diagnosis, and 20 per cent had never previously tested for HIV,” Dr Chant said.
“Small numbers of HIV notifications through heterosexual contact still persist in NSW. Of the people diagnosed in NSW in January to March 2018, 15 per cent likely acquired their infection through heterosexual sex.
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“Knowing your HIV status is a good thing. It means people with HIV can start treatment earlier, which not only has better health outcomes but also helps prevent it being passed on to others.
“Testing is now easy and fast with a variety of testing services which are free, easy and confidential, including the NSW dried blood spot (DBS) finger stick test which can be ordered online.”