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Gay men urged to know their status on HIV Testing Week
Jul13

Gay men urged to know their status on HIV Testing Week

LAST UPDATED // Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:49 Written by // Reg Domingo

Only by working together and in partnership – health services, the HIV sector, researchers and, of course, the gay community, can we end HIV. And the first step is for people to know their HIV status by getting a HIV test. Reg Domingo reports.

Around 10 per cent of HIV-positive people in New South Wales may be unaware they are infected. It’s a worrying statistic given that HIV is generally transmitted by people who don’t know they have it. If Australia is to achieve its goal of ending HIV transmissions by 2020, it’s vital that people know their HIV status.

To raise awareness of HIV testing and new ways of getting tested for HIV, NSW Health and the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) are staging the inaugural HIV Testing Week from July 14-20.

It will run in conjunction with a social media campaign (#HelpEndHIV) as well as activation sites including the SESLHD pop-up rapid HIV testing bus on Taylor Square during HIV Testing Week.

The week’s primary aim is to encourage at risk people to a have a HIV test, which includes those in the gay community. In 2013, 78 per cent of HIV transmissions were among gay men and men who have sex with men, compared to heterosexual cases accounting for 17 per cent. Around 10,500 people in NSW are diagnosed as HIV-positive.

Ending HIV transmissions in NSW requires a coordinated and unified approach from all stakeholders and service providers. Only in partnership will NSW and Australia be able to realise this objective.

feat-hiv-testing-week-2

Above: Working together to help end HIV ... Timmy Lockwood from Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Terry Walkinshaw from ACON and Phillip Keen from The Kirby Institute. Photo: Cec Busby

Timmy Lockwood is a clinical nurse specialist at Sydney Sexual Health Centre, where he performs HIV tests.

“Getting an HIV test has never been faster or easier with same visit results and after-hours services available at convenient locations,” Lockwood tells SX. Such conveniences have been made possible with new technologies such as rapid HIV testing.

Terry Walkinshaw is a coordinator at ACON’s rapid HIV testing facility, a[TEST]. He has helped in the set up of Sydney’s a[TEST] sites including Surry Hills, Newtown and the recently opened site in Kings Cross, as well as the six-week pop-up shop front on Oxford Street during the Mardi Gras season.

“Our goal has been simple: to see gay guys get tested for HIV more often,” Walkinshaw tells SX. “To do that, we are making rapid testing more accessible and convenient for guys in our community. It’s important that guys to get tested regularly, and this is easier than ever now that you can get results in just 30 minutes in a safe, friendly and non-judgmental environment.”

Phillip Keen is the coordinator of a study into rapid HIV testing at the Kirby Institute. His work helps provide a better understanding of the outcomes of rapid HIV testing.

“HIV Testing Week is a great reminder of the importance of regular HIV testing,” Keen says. “With rapid HIV testing now available at so many sites across NSW, HIV testing is easier than it has ever been.”

Walkinshaw adds HIV Testing Week provides an opportunity to give gay men a pat on the back and to encourage them to keep getting tested.

“HIV Testing Week brings to the fore the importance of knowing your status, not just for your own health, but for your partner's health as well. With the latest developments in testing, getting tested is quick, free and convenient and available in a broad range of services. HIV Testing Week helps acknowledge and promote those services.

“From ACON’s perspective, it is also a chance to thank gay men for taking action and getting tested – so far our testing rates in NSW this year are the highest they’ve ever been.  This is a great start but we need guys to keep up that momentum.  

“HIV Testing Week is also about the importance of partnership – that together – health services, the community and HIV sector – we can make it happen. It is possible to change this epidemic.” 

For more in HIV Testing Week, visit the NSW Health website here

WHERE TO GET TESTED

SYDNEY METROPOLITAN AREA

SYDNEY

Sydney Sexual Health Centre
Sydney Hospital, Nightingale Wing, Macquarie Street, Sydney
(02) 9382 7440

SURRY HILLS

ACON a[TEST]  
ACON, 414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9206 2000

The Albion Centre
150-154 Albion Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9332 9600
 
DARLINGHURST

St Vincent's Hospital
Level 4, Xavier Building, 390 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst   
(02) 8382 2576

Taylor Square Private Clinic
393 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 9331 6151
* private practice

East Sydney Doctors
102 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 9332 2531
* private practice

POTTS POINT

a[TEST] Clinic 180
180 Victoria Street, Potts Point
(02) 9357 1299

KINGS CROSS

Kirketon Road Centre
Above the Darlinghurst Fire Station, Victoria Street (entrance), Kings Cross
(02) 9360 2766
 
CAMPERDOWN

RPA Sexual Health Clinic
Building 21, 16 Lucas Street, Camperdown
(02) 9515 1200

NEWTOWN

a[TEST] Newtown
AFAO, Level 1, 222 King Street, Newtown

ST LEONARDS

Clinic 16
Royal North Shore Community Health Centre
Level 5, 2C Herbert Street, St Leonards
 
KOGARAH

Short Street Centre
Sexual Health Clinic, St George Hospital, Short Street, Kogarah
(02) 9113 2742
 
PARRAMATTA

Western Sydney Sexual Health Service, Parramatta
Parramatta Health Service, Level 1, Jeffrey House, 162 Marsden Street, Parramatta
(02) 9843 3124

SYDNEY OUTER METROPOLITAN AREA  
 
WOLLONGONG

Illawarra Sexual Health Service
Port Kembla Hospital, Fairfax Road, Warrawong
(02) 4276 2399

CAMPBELLTOWN

Rosemeadow Community Health Centre
5 Thomas Rose Drive, Rosemeadow  
(02) 4633 4100

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool Sexual Health Clinic
Bigge Park Centre, Cnr Elizabeth & Bigge Streets, Liverpool
(02) 9827 8022
 
PENRITH/NEPEAN

Nepean Sexual Health Clinic
Court Building, Nepean Hospital, Derby Street, Kingswood
(02) 4734 2507

MOUNT DRUITT

Western Sydney Sexual Health Service, Mt Druitt
Mt Druitt Community Health Centre, Kelly Close, Mount Druitt
(02) 9881 1733
• Rapid HIV testing not available

KATOOMBA

Blue Mountains Sexual Health/HIV Clinic
Blue Mountains Hospital, Great Western Highway, Katoomba
(02) 4784 6560   
• Rapid HIV testing not available

RAPID HIV TESTING ALSO AVAILABLE AT THESE REGIONAL AREAS

Newcastle Sexual Health Clinic, Newcastle
Newcastle Sexual Health Service
Level 2, 670 Hunter Street, Newcastle
(02) 4016 4536

Newcastle Sexual Health Clinic / ACON Hunter Outreach Clinic
ACON Hunter
129 Maitland Rd, Islington

Nepean Sexual Health Clinic, Kingswood
Nepean Sexual Health Clinic
Court Building, Nepean Hospital, Derby Street, Kingswood
(02) 4734 2507

Lismore Sexual Health Clinic, Lismore
Lismore Sexual Health Service
Lismore Base Hospital 4 Shepherd Lane Lismore
(02) 9515 1200

For more information, visit health.nsw.gov.au/endinghiv.

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Reg Domingo

Reg Domingo

Reg Domingo is the editor of SX.

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