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February 1, 2023

It’s HIV awareness week

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Jenny Heslop, northern NSW local health district manager HIV and related programs. Photo supplied.

As with so many diseases getting an early diagnosis is key to avoiding or minimising long term serious side effects. It is the same for HIV.

During HIV Awareness Week (23–30 November) and in the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, NSW Health is reminding people to test for HIV with various high quality HIV testing options now available.

‘Once a person is diagnosed, they can start treatment early, improve their health and prevent the virus from being passed on to others,’ said Jenny Heslop, northern NSW local health district manager HIV and related programs.

In 2018-19, NSW Health is investing $21.9 million in services to strengthen HIV testing, treatment and prevention.

‘NSW is on track to achieving its goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020, with a 23 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW,’ Ms Heslop said.

‘We want to see this downward trend continue and urge anyone at risk of HIV to ensure they are regularly tested.’

‘Once a person is diagnosed, they can start treatment early, improve their health and prevent the virus from being passed on to others.’

From January to September 2018, 191 NSW residents presented with a newly diagnosed HIV infection compared with 249 during the same periods in 2013-2017, according to the NSW HIV Data Report.

‘This reduction is due to more people seeking early testing and treatment, as well as the introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP),’ Ms Heslop said.

PrEP, the use of medications to prevent HIV in those at risk, is also used traditionally to treat the infection. It is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

World AIDS Day

A range of local events are taking place across the northern rivers including a free workshop for people living with HIV with a specific look at Quality of Life (QoL).

Participants will hear from keynote speaker Dr Jennifer Power, Principal Researcher, HIV Futures, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, who will explore what factors contribute to good QoL. Numbers are limited, to register call (02) 6622 1555 or Free Call 1800 633 637.

‘World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died,’ said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

‘It allows us to raise funds to deliver programs and services that support people living with HIV and to educate people about how we can reduce HIV transmissions in NSW by 2020.

‘I encourage everyone to support our efforts this year by making a donation to the Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal, buying Red Ribbon merchandise, attending one of ACON’s fundraising or remembrance events, or participating in other activities supported by ACON.’

Ribbons will be available throughout the week from ACON Northern Rivers at 27 Uralba Street Lismore as well as at selected countertops, markets andcommunity events in Nimbin, Casino, Kyogle, Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay,Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby. Find out more on Facebook: ACONNNorthernrivers.


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The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.