The Victorian Government has opened the door for more medical professionals to be able to perform HIV tests, reforming old regulations around the practice.
Today, legislation passed the Victorian Parliament to amend the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, which previously singled out HIV testing for special requirements.
Previously, testing for HIV was unnecessarily complex, burdensome and time-consuming – particularly for regional and rural Victorians, who often had to travel long distances to get tested.
The law also mandated that medical professionals had to ensure a person was given prescribed information before carrying out or authorising a test for HIV and before advising them of the results – rules that were put in place when treatments for HIV were less effective, meaning people living with the virus had much higher mortality rates compared to today.
Under the new reforms HIV will be treated like any other blood borne virus when it comes to testing and getting tested will be as simple as visiting a local health clinic, GP or pathology service.
“These are outdated regulations and they needed to change,” Victoria’s Minister for Equality, Martin Foley said earlier today.
“We took action so that people who need an HIV test can do so without fear – just like tests for a range of other viruses or conditions.”
The Victorian Budget 2019/20 also delivers $2.8 million over four years for Thorne Harbour Health to continue their community-based peer-led rapid HIV testing service PRONTO!
The Andrews Government plans to meet an ambitious target to eliminate new HIV transmissions by 2020.
According to the latest data, there were 67 new cases of HIV diagnosed in Victoria between the start of the year and the end of March, compared with 72 cases for the same period in 2018 – an 11 percent reduction.
“We’re striving for a future without new HIV transmissions, but there’s still more work to do,” Victoria’s Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos said.
“This is a small change, but it will make a world of difference when it comes to reducing the stigma attached to HIV and improving access to testing.”