The new Testing Point initiative by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities has been up and running for about three weeks to favourable community reaction and participation. The initiative is a new means by which the LGBTI community can receive convenient and relaxed peer-based HIV/STI testing.
The service was recently taken up by community photographer and current Mr Queensland Leather Anthony Smith who said he was relieved to know that the initiative had started up again.
“I was excited that a free testing service was opening back up in Brisbane. The previous free testing service that ran from sex-on-premises venues around Brisbane was closed without warning a few years ago by Queensland Health and I had felt that a void had been left,” Smith told the Star Observer.
Asked if he had any apprehension about Testing Point and its trialling of the new rapid HIV testing (a test that can provide accurate HIV results the same day), Smith said the service didn’t worry him at all and he questioned why the test hasn’t been available here.
“I found it quite strange that rapid testing has been available for so many years in other countries and is used so regularly, yet it is unavailable in Australia. I believe having access to a rapid HIV test would mean more people would be tested and know their HIV status,” he said.
Smith believes that the new service is a vital addition to the fight against HIV/AIDS as previous means of testing have proved difficult for many members of the community.
“Many people don’t have easy access to a GP that has information about gay men’s health, I know I didn’t until just recently,” he said.
“Trying to get in to Biala [a Brisbane Sexual Health service] was a nightmare with no appointments and long waits. It is also fairly low key, meaning those men who possibly don’t identify as gay or can’t talk to their GPs might feel more comfortable going in to get a check.
“If you are due for a HIV test, please make sure you are part of the HIV rapid testing trial. I think it’s really important that Australia has access to rapid testing.”