Shop front rapid HIV test site an Australian first
MELBOURNE: Rapid HIV testing is now being offered in a ‘shop front’ setting, the first of its kind in Australia.
With a Victorian Government investment of $1.2 million, the testing site in Fitzroy, known as PRONTO, is being run in partnership with the Burnet Institute and the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC). It provides a quick HIV test using a simple pinprick blood test with results in 20 minutes.
Following the Federal Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of a rapid HIV testing device last December, the Victorian Minister for Health, David Davis announced at Midsumma Carnival in January plans for a walk-in testing service.
Davis was on-hand to officially open the service last week.
“This site is an important step in our HIV prevention strategy. If we are to reduce incidence of infection in Victoria we need to get more gay men testing - and testing more frequently,” Davis said.
“It is our hope PRONTO, as a peer based and led service, will provide an alternative option to test for HIV making it easier for people to test without fear or judgement.”
State member for Prahran, Clem Newton Brown, said he was pleased to have been able to work with Davis to deliver this Australian first initiative.
“Rapid testing facilities have been proven overseas to have big public health impacts. More people testing more often helps drive down HIV transmission,” he said.
Burnet’s Head of HIV Research, Mark Stoové said PRONTO is an example of how government, researchers and community can work in partnership to deliver innovative public health and disease prevention initiatives.
Stoové lead research into community models of HIV testing forming part of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine’s review of HIV policy.
According to Stoové in Australia an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of gay men with HIV are unaware of their positive status.
“This model of HIV testing will not only provide substantial benefits to HIV prevention in Victoria, but will undoubtedly inform service models across the country.
“Accessible and convenient rapid HIV testing through a community-based service such as this will help reduce the number of gay men with undiagnosed HIV,” Stoové said.
Melbourne’s Mark Kavenagh was the first to be tested at the new site.
“Being able to easily get tested for HIV, and get the results quickly is going to make a big difference to Melbourne’s gay community,” he said.
“This clinic is such a positive step in trying to reduce HIV transmission at the community level.”
PRONTO is located at 175 Rose Street, Fitzroy Information: pronto.org.au