With COVID-19 related lockdowns affecting everyone, ACON has launched a new at-home HIV testing service in New South Wales for cis gay men and trans persons who have sex with men. The service is completely free,  does not require a Medicare card, is contactless and can be done without visiting a clinic.

“We know our communities are engaged when it comes to looking after their sexual health,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill. “But disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult for some to get tested for HIV. With pressure on frontline health workers, we understand that some local sexual health services have been disrupted, there are reports that some are putting off accessing regular health checks at this time. you[TEST] allows men to continue their HIV testing routine and know their HIV status without having to visit a clinic.”

How will the test work?

Men and trans persons who want to take advantage of the service can contact ACON to connect with a trained peer virtually.
There are two options –  HIV self-testing kit or the Dried Blood Spot collection kit. Based on your selection, the kit will be mailed to you.
The HIV self test kit comes with a small cartridge and involves pricking one finger to draw a small amount of blood. The test result is ready in 15 minutes.
The Dried Blood Spot collection involves drawing blood and placing it in a card that comes with the kit. Once the blood dries, mail the card to the laboratory. The test results will be provided via text, email or phone.
There is the option of following up the test with a chat by phone or video call for information and referral support.

 ACON is hoping its new service is as successful as its regular testing service that has seen tens of thousands of gay men getting tested at a clinic since 2013. While gay men have already been able to access these home testing kits, providing it though ACON means that you can also benefit from the support services they provide.

“This new contactless service will be based on similar principles that have made a[TEST] a success, with clients supported by peers throughout the process. Our new service puts in layers of support to help men overcome barriers such as concern that they don’t know how to use the test kit, fear of a positive result, or avoiding screening due to privacy concerns related to showing up at a clinic. Our you[TEST] service provides added support from a trained peer, and links to follow up care if it is needed across NSW,” said Parkhill.

ACON is also recommending that people should continue to visit their GP or local sexual health clinic for a complete sexual health screening and STI testing.

Find out more about ACON’s you[TEST] service at http://www.endinghiv.org.au/youtest

Watch this video to find out how to use the HIV self-testing kit

Access PrEP in Melbourne without Medicare

If you are in Melbourne and without Medicare you can still access PrEP. “The PrEPMe Clinic at The Alfred will help provide access to PrEP for overseas born men who have sex with men living in Victoria who are at high risk of HIV and do not have Medicare,” Thorne Harbour informed in a post.

International students living in Australia or those without a Medicare card can apply to purchase PrEP at a subsidised cost or apply for a free PrEP coupon.

For more information, check www.pan.org.au/no-medicare

Call: HIV Prevention Line on 1800 889 887

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