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October 4, 2023

Ending HIV in the northern rivers?

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With ongoing advances in treatment – and now with new fast testing – this seemingly impossible task may be closer to reality that we might think.

People with HIV, gay men and affected community members now have a chance to chat about the subject at the Dragonfly cafe, Friday 3 May 6–8pm. Presented by ACON Northern Rivers, the evening’s discussion will revolve around rapid HIV testing, treatment as prevention and the prospect of ending HIV.

The evening will be presented by ACON and offers the opportunity to meet Phillip Keen from the Kirby Institute, Australia’s leading research body in the area of HIV, along with Dr David Smith, medical director, North Coast HIV/Sexual Health Services.

Dr Smith said, ‘ACON and North Coast HIV and Sexual Health are working collaboratively to make rapid HIV testing available to gay men in the northern rivers region, initially at Lismore Sexual Health Service. Rapid HIV tests provide results for most people at a single clinic visit, and usually in 30 minutes or less. This means most people will not need to return to collect test results.’

Marie Reilly, regional manager of ACON Northern Rivers, adds, ‘In this region we have one of the highest per capita populations of gay men in NSW outside of Sydney; this corresponds to a relatively high prevalence of HIV compared to other regional areas’.

‘We have a real opportunity to play a significant role in making ending HIV a statewide reality by acting locally to increase HIV testing among gay men and treatment uptake for people living with HIV. We are very excited that rapid testing will soon be available for gay men at Lismore Sexual Health Service (SHAIDS) as part of the larger Kirby study.’

The campaign focuses on three key activities needed to help end the epidemic:

Test More – sexually active gay men need to get tested for HIV at least twice a year.

Treat Early – advances in HIV medicines offer improved health benefits for people with HIV and can reduce the virus in their body to an undetectable level, significantly reducing the likelihood of the transmission of HIV.

Stay Safe – with condoms and other risk reduction strategies – gay men need to maintain a culture of safe sex.

RSVP to ACON Northern Rivers for catering purposes on 6622 1555 or [email protected].

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