ACON community health promotions officer Tobin Saunders, ACON volunteer Daniel Ward, and Tropical Fruits chair Ken Beilby.
ACON community health promotions officer Tobin Saunders, ACON volunteer Daniel Ward, and Tropical Fruits chair Ken Beilby. Doug Eaton

New approach to HIV testing

ELIMINATING HIV across the Northern Rivers using new testing and treatments is the focus of a campaign launched by the AIDS Council of NSW in Lismore.

ACON community health promotions officer Tobin Saunders said the campaign, Ending HIV, aimed to get people to practise safe sex and test regularly for HIV to enable early treatment if required.

Mr Saunders said with six classes of drugs available to treat HIV, people infected with the virus have more treatment options than ever.

"There are new treatments coming in the pipeline all the time," he said.

With The Northern Rivers being home to one of the highest per capita populations of gay men in NSW, Mr Saunders encouraged all sexually active gay men to get tested for HIV every six months.

Of the 300 new detections across NSW last year, Mr Saunders said 80% were gay men. "There are quite a large number of people living on the Northern Rivers with HIV but the number of new notifications is not alarming."

"On the Northern Rivers we get about a dozen new notifications a year of HIV detections."

Mr Saunders said rapid HIV testing that will be available soon at the Lismore Sexual Health Clinic will enable people to receive their results in 30 minutes.

"Rapid testing is about removing barriers and making it easier, cheaper and less of a medical procedure so it's more like a check-up."

A public forum discussing HIV testing and treatment with North Coast Sexual Health Services medical director Dr David Smith will be held on Friday at Lismore's Dragonfly Cafe from 6pm till 8pm.

ACON can be contatcted on 6622 1555 or tsaunders@acon.org.au.



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