Greater inclusion of intersex people, a renewed focus on HIV prevention and a more targeted approach to community health and wellbeing will be some of the key focuses for HIV/AIDS support organisation ACON over the next five years as outlined by two new strategic plans released by the agency last week.

Launched last week by ACON President Mark Orr, both plans have been developed over the past six months following consultation with ACON’s clients, the communities it serves and other stakeholders.

The ACON Strategic Plan 2013-2018 will drive the agency’s core missions over the next five years in relation to HIV prevention and supporting people with HIV, as well as how it plans to respond to issues affecting the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, which for the first time will include official recognition of the needs of intersex people.

“Diversity and inclusion are key values which underpin the work of ACON and we feel there are many mutual benefits to be had from including intersex people in ACON’s strategic intent,” Orr said.

“For example, many of the issues related to discrimination, equality and access to health care that are experienced by LGBT people are also experienced by intersex people, so it makes sense for ACON’s advocacy efforts in relation to these issues to include intersex people.”

The ACON HIV Action Plan 2013-2018, which is a companion document to the ACON Strategic Plan, provides a detailed summary of the work ACON will undertake over the next five years to help meet the medium and long-term targets of the NSW Government’s own HIV/AIDS strategy, which aims to reduce new HIV infections by 60 per cent amongst the state’s gay community.

“Over the next five years, we will work closely with the NSW Ministry of Health and our other stakeholders to ensure our HIV programs and services maximise the potential for people in our community to test more, treat early and stay safe,” Orr said.

In conjunction with the Sydney Sexual Health Centre, ACON will also soon officially open an express HIV and STI screening service known as ‘a[TEST]’. People will be able to obtain test results in around 30 minutes with trained peer educators on-hand to administer the tests and provide results.

Sydney Sexual Health Centre Director Dr Anna McNulty said it was an exciting time for the sector with technological advances and new service models all aimed at improving access to testing.

“We are privileged to be working in collaboration with ACON to provide a peer based model of service where trained and competent peer educators work alongside clinicians to provide HIV and STI testing,” she said.

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