THE increasing success of rapid HIV testing across Queensland will see an expansion of services to the Gold Coast as HIV Foundation Queensland (HIVFQ) records a substantial uptake in testing after its initial rollout.
A record 1114 rapid tests were performed during January to March this year, an increase of 68 per cent according to the HIVFQ, which operates the RAPID clinic in conjunction with Queensland Positive People in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley neighbourhood.
“Increasing voluntary testing has been a key pillar of the foundation’s strategy to end HIV and a substantial investment in resources and energy has been directed by the foundation and Queensland Health since June 2013 into the rapid HIV testing program,” he said.
“Results like this demonstrate that this hard work has been worthwhile.”
Testing provided in community-based environments played a crucial part in the process and rapid tests performed at RAPID, the Queensland AIDS Council’s Testing Point and outreaches at Brisbane’s sex-on-premises venues increased by 100 per cent over the previous three months.
Tests performed in Queensland Health facilities also rose by 47 per cent but more than half of the state’s rapid tests were conducted in community-based settings, further highlighting the importance of involving the community directly in improving testing rates.
“The foundation has been a strong advocate for increasing options for people to access testing and Queenslanders are really embracing being able to receive a rapid HIV test in a community based setting,” Russell said.
“Work done by services like RAPID and Testing Point to offer testing in targeted outreach settings has shown real results with hundreds of men testing at all four of Brisbane’s sex on premises venues.”
The popularity of rapid testing in Queensland is the main reason why there will soon be an expansion of RAPID to the Gold Coast.
“A key focus of Queensland’s END HIV campaign has been not only to increase testing for those at highest risk but also to increase the options to access testing,” HIVFQ chief executive Tony Majer told Fairfax Media recently.
“Steps like this to extend the reach of community testing, making testing more accessible, are very important.
“With testing options expanding and more people testing more regularly there are enormous benefits both to individuals and the wider community and it means that we have a better chance of HIV being detected early and early detection means early treatment, which we know can lead to better health outcomes for people living with HIV.”