Free rapid HIV testing, PRONTO!
On Wednesday August 16, the Minister for Health, David Davis opened PRONTO! the first free HIV rapid testing site in Victoria. PRONTO! is a partnership between the Victorian Department of Health, the Burnet Institute and VAC/GMHC.
At PRONTO! HIV rapid tests are conducted by members of the community. The facility is a supportive and non judgemental environment operated by trained and accredited community members. Getting tested at PRONTO! involves a finger-prick test which provides a result in 10 minutes. Before the test, the test facilitator will conduct a pre test discussion. This will take around 10 minutes and is designed to assess whether an HIV rapid test is suitable. This is important because the window period for antibodies to be detected in the blood is three months, so if the episode of risk was within three months the person will be asked to come back at the three month point. If the episode of risk was within 72 hours the client will be referred to a provider of post exposure prophylaxis.
HIV rapid testing is aimed at increasing the frequency at which high HIV prevalence communities and individuals get tested. In Australia, gay men are at the highest risk of acquiring HIV. To ensure that PRONTO! responds to the testing needs of this community, PRONTO! is exclusively available to men who have sex with other men.
Once the result is known, the test facilitator will discuss HIV prevention and any other questions the individual has about their sexual health, and if necessary, assist with a referral to other services. A reactive result does not mean that the person is HIV positive. If the test is reactive, a confirmatory blood test will be performed at PRONTO!. The person being tested can choose to receive the result of that test from a PRONTO! test facilitator, or from their GP.
PRONTO! positions HIV testing at a community level.
It is hoped that members of the gay community who get tested infrequently, or men who are not comfortable attending a clinic to get tested will be more likely to be tested for HIV at PRONTO! Research has shown that three out of 10 people with HIV don’t know that they carry the virus so PRONTO! may play a key role in reducing the rate of undiagnosed HIV in our community.
You can book a free, confidential rapid HIV test by calling 9416 2889 or by going to pronto.org.au and hitting the ‘Make an appointment’ tab.