ACON’s rapid HIV testing service a[Test] in Sydney will soon be available in Mandarin in an effort to curb rising transmission rates among overseas-born gay and bisexual men.

The a[TEST] Chinese Clinic will operate at a[TEST]’s Surry Hills location on Thursdays from 3pm to 6:30pm.

Mandarin-speaking community peers and sexual health nurses will be available during clinic hours.

Computer-assisted self-assessments at the clinic will be available in simplified Chinese language, and the service – like all a[TEST] clinics – will be free and confidential.

Acting ACON CEO Karen Price said providing culturally-specific sexual health services is vital to reducing HIV transmissions in NSW, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM).

“Recent data from NSW Health shows that new HIV notifications continue to fall, particularly among Australian-born gay men and MSM, but we are not seeing this decline across all populations with the majority of those newly diagnosed born overseas, including people born in Asia,” said Price.

“Moreover, a number of overseas-born gay men diagnosed with HIV had late or advance stage infection, further highlighting the importance of regular testing.

“There are various reasons why people don’t test for HIV, such as fear of a positive result or not believing they are at risk.

“People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds may also encounter language and cultural barriers.

“Being able to speak freely in healthcare settings is important and we hope by offering this clinic, people can ask questions and have a good conversation about their sexual health,” Price said.

NSW Health’s quarterly data released in September 2018 showed that transmission rates among overseas-born MSM were not declining in line with the drops in transmissions among Australian-born men.

“Our a[TEST] facilities are some of the most popular HIV and sexual health testing services in NSW,” Price said.

“They are peer-led, which means they are staffed by gay men in safe, inclusive and nonjudgmental community-based settings.

“We see lots of return visitors as we know clients appreciate the high quality, easy and convenient service we offer with our partners.”

Sydney Sexual Health Centre (SSHC) is clinical partner of the a[TEST] Chinese Clinic, in addition to the a[TEST] Surry Hills and a[TEST] Oxford St branches.

“Co-designing this new service with ACON aimed at reducing barriers to testing for Chinese gay men has been a great opportunity to build on the success of the a[TEST] service,” said SSHC’s Director Dr Anna McNulty.

 “Enhancing our existing resources such the option for clients to register and answer personal and confidential sexual health questions via CASI – computer assisted self-interview – in a language other than English, and by utilising the bilingual skills of both nurses and peers to ensure culturally appropriate care, we hope to see an increase in numbers of Asian gay men testing in particular those who have never tested before.”

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