A new health campaign released to coincide with this year’s World AIDS Day aims to remind gay and bisexual men across NSW of the importance of HIV testing and getting checked for STIs.

Launched by ACON, the We Test campaign champions HIV testing as a habit that should be culturally ingrained in the LGBTI community.

Chief Executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, encourages gay and bisexual men of all backgrounds to incorporate regular HIV and STI screenings into their sexual health regimes.

“HIV testing has been integral in our community’s fight against the epidemic since it began,” he said.

“HIV testing rates among gay men and other men who have sex with men across NSW are at an all-time high. We are heading in the right direction towards our goal of virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions by 2020 and we must maintain the momentum.

“Just as gay men and other men who have sex with men now have a range of effective HIV prevention tools available such as condoms, PrEP, and having an undetectable viral load, they also now have access to a variety of testing options.

“No matter who you are, where you are, or which HIV prevention method you use: regular testing is part of our routines – it’s who we are and what we do. HIV testing is embedded in our culture – it’s part of the way we look after ourselves and each other.”

The campaign features a diverse range of community members around NSW, helping to deliver the message that HIV testing is available to anyone.

It will be promoted across NSW in print, radio, digital, and outdoor media. It will also be accompanied by a video to be released across social media networks.

Parkhill said sexual health clinics, GPs, and community-based testing services have become popular in metro and suburban areas, but need to be promoted to gay and bisexual men in rural and regional settings.

“People in rural and regional settings where access to sexual health testing may be limited are encouraged to discuss testing with their GP, as well as consider testing alternatives such as dried blood spot testing, which is a free and effective test-at-home and mail-back method,” he said.

“These various options will help gay men and other men who have sex with men take control of their health.

“It is recommended that people get tested for HIV at least twice a year, and up to four times for more sexually-active people.”

Parkhill commended the community for their efforts in helping to reduce HIV transmissions.

“We thank gay men across NSW for continuing to take action and heeding the call to end HIV by testing more often,” he said.

“We now encourage other gay men and men who have sex with men to book a test or drop into any of our testing sites across NSW, because it’s now easier than ever to get tested and take control of your health.”

For more information on We Test, go here.

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