A new report has revealed a decline in HIV transmission rates in NSW, with a 22 per cent drop in the first three months of 2019.
The NSW HIV Strategy Data Report – Quarter 1 revealed that between January and March of this year, there were 22 per cent fewer notifications of HIV compared to the average for the same period over the past five years.
Chief Executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, said the downward trend highlighted the efficacy of HIV prevention and treatment.
“The combination of high testing rates, easier access to PrEP, greater uptake of HIV treatment and continued condom use are all contributing to a decline in HIV notifications in NSW,” he said.
Among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), 52 were diagnosed with HIV in NSW from January to March 2019.
Of these, 17 were Australian-born MSM, which is 48 per cent less compared to the same period over the past five years, marking the lowest rate of new HIV infections among Australian-born MSM since 1985.
However, 35 overseas-born MSM were diagnosed with HIV from January to March 2019, which is a four per cent increase compared to the average over the past five years.
In response, Parkhill called for a renewed investment in efforts towards engaging overseas-born gay men and MSM in HIV prevention, education, and testing programs.
“Our new a[TEST] Chinese Clinic, operated in partnership with Sydney Sexual Health Centre, offers rapid HIV testing and sexual health screenings in Mandarin and is one of a number of services we are implementing to connect with gay men born overseas,” he said.
“We have also translated our HIV prevention resource Ending HIV into simplified Chinese, a Thai version is soon to be released, and we are delivering sexual health education workshops in Mandarin.”
President of Positive Life NSW, Robert Agati, said that working to ensure younger overseas-born men feel comfortable engaging with healthcare in Australia was critical.
“If you have a test and are diagnosed with HIV in Australia, overseas-born men will be supported to commence treatments and so they’re linked with culturally and linguistically diverse networks ensure their support needs are met,” he said.
For more information about ACON’s a[TEST] services, including a[TEST] Chinese Clinic, and HIV self-testing, go to endinghiv.org.au/test-often