ACON has called on the federal Government to introduce rapid testing for HIV following disturbing survey results.
Queensland researchers conducting a microcosmic study of undiagnosed testing among men at sex-on-premises venues found that while more men are getting tested more regularly, there is still a proportion of men who remain unaware that they have contracted the virus.
Of 460 men tested, 41 tested HIV positive. Of those, 20 percent were unaware that they were HIV positive, despite most of them having recently been tested. Eighty-six percent of those who were unaware of their status said they had been tested within the past six months, and all had been tested within the last two years.
National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research professor Garrett Prestage said the limited scope of the study meant it could not be considered a trend but it still highlighted the need to improve testing options.
“A key response to this concerns testing. These men appear to get tested at high rates — but men who have a fair bit of risky sex should get tested more often than the recommended frequency,” Prestage told Sydney Star Observer.
“One of the main problems in encouraging men to get tested is that testing is becoming more difficult. There are increased time pressures, more difficulty getting to see a doctor that’s convenient and fewer bulk-billing practices.”
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said rapid testing would encourage more men to get tested more often.
“This study reinforces the need for men who have higher numbers of casual sex partners to get tested for HIV and other STIs frequently,” he said.
“ACON appreciates that for some men getting tested for HIV can be a lengthy process and is often stressful. That’s why we’re calling on the federal Government to follow the lead of many other developed countries and introduce rapid HIV testing.
“We believe that getting test results in about 20 minutes will encourage more men to get tested more often.”
info: For more information on getting tested, visit www.acon.org.au