WITH Melbourne set to host the 20th International AIDS Conference in less than a week, HIV Testing Week has been launched in NSW.

A pop-up rapid HIV testing bus will be parked on Taylor Square, Darlinghurst daily from Monday July 14 to Friday July 18 between 3pm-6pm. The testing bus will be encouraging gay men and other at-risk people to get an HIV test, following the success of a similar test site at the same location last year.

A social media campaign will also be running to make HIV testing top of mind. There will be #HelpEndHIV roving social media “hot spots” all around inner Sydney. The hot spots will encourage people to upload photos showing their support for #HelpEndHIV on social media.

It is estimated that around 10,500 people in NSW are living with diagnosed HIV infection, with 78 per cent of them being men who have sex with men according to 2013 reports. Heterosexuals account for 17 per cent.

Around 10 per cent of HIV positive people in NSW may be unaware they are infected, a statistic NSW Health is looking to change.

Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, who may be at risk of HIV should be tested. This includes people from countries which have high rates of HIV infection and anyone who has had unprotected sex while travelling in any of these countries. Anyone who has had unprotected sex with a high risk person should also be tested.

As part of HIV Testing Week, ACON also launched a[TEST] Kings X, a new rapid HIV testing facility at Clinic 180, 180 Victoria St, Potts Point.

ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said making HIV testing easier as well as educating gay men about the importance of testing more regularly are essential to ending HIV transmission in NSW.

“ACON is focused on making HIV testing easy, accessible and culturally appropriate for gay men, the population in NSW most affected by HIV,” he said.

“The new peer-run a[TEST] facility at Kings X joins our a[TEST] facilities in Surry Hills and Newtown, and will play an important role in making it easy for gay men to test more.

“Education initiatives such as HIV Testing Week, and pop up testing sites such as the one in Taylor Square during HIV Testing Week, are also part of this innovative approach and I encourage gay men to help us reach our goal of ending HIV by testing more regularly, either at one of ACON’s a[TEST] services, other rapid testing centres around NSW, or at their local sexual health clinic or GP.”

a[TEST] Kings X will offer rapid HIV testing and a full STI screen on Saturday afternoons from 3:30pm to 6:30pm. Visit www.endinghiv.org for more information.

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