01 December 2022

NSW Health is urging anyone who is at risk of HIV to speak to a healthcare professional about the many testing and prevention options available.   

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the state has made great progress towards eliminating HIV transmission, however testing rates are lower than pre-pandemic levels.

From January to September 2022, 116 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV. While this is a decrease of 37 per cent compared to the average for the last five years, that decline is still likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response and lower levels of engagement with health services.

"Heading into summer, we are reminding the community that it has never been easier to test with a wide variety of options available," Dr Chant said. 

"The numbers of people returning for testing and taking pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP, for HIV prevention are much higher in the last few months, which is terrific, but we still have work to do to return those testing numbers to where they were before COVID-19.

"People can get tested easily and confidentially at their local GP or sexual health service. There are also now more online and home-based testing options including Dried Blood Spot test, a free finger prick test which is mailed to you, and self-test kits which are available in some pharmacies.

"That's why we are urging people to test for HIV if you think you are at risk, start treatment if you are diagnosed with HIV, or consider PrEP if you are HIV-negative." 

Online services such as you[TEST] provide peer support to help you choose a test.  

Starting early treatment enables people who are HIV positive to reduce their viral load to an undetectable level. This enables them to enjoy a long healthy life and protect others within their community. 

The NSW HIV Strategy 2021–2025 aims to achieve a 90 per cent reduction in the rate of preventable HIV infection to achieve the virtual elimination of HIV transmission in NSW. 

In 2022/23 the NSW Ministry of Health is investing 22.4 million in services to strengthen HIV testing, treatment and prevention.