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Record Lowest Number of New HIV Cases in NSW

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Record Lowest Number of New HIV Cases in NSW

Sex workers were one of the first communities in NSW to respond to HIV with the virtual elimination of HIV in our community being achieved early and then sustained. Today marks a milestone with the report of a rapid decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men.

This reflects the long standing partnership between community, government and medicine and research. The combined efforts of government, clinicians, researchers and affected communities to raise the levels of testing, improve treatment rates and provide access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention. 

NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said, “There were 101 new diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in NSW in the first six months of this year – that number is the lowest recorded in NSW since HIV emerged in the 1980’s.”

“The report shows that in January to June 2017 there was a 39% drop in the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV with recent infection, compared with the same period over the past six years (76 down to 46).”

Testing, within the first half of this year alone, has dramatically increased by 33% on 2012 levels, resulting to a total of 286,626 tests being conducted state-wide.

However, Dr Chant advises that “the number of people diagnosed late with HIV has remained stable, meaning there are still people with undiagnosed HIV infection in the community.” 

Acknowledging that the HIV diagnoses of those born overseas or heterosexual remain stubbornly stable, Dr Chant said, “While testing rates are at an all-time high, more needs to be done to reach the people at high risk of HIV who aren’t aware of their risk.”

“I am encouraging everyone at risk or who is unsure of their status, to talk to their doctor about having a test as well as their HIV and STI prevention options.”

It is hoped that the Dried Blood Spot (DBS) HIV test, which became available in NSW last December, will provide a new avenue for people to be tested in the privacy of their own home. 

“Early detection enables early treatment. This improves the health for people with HIV and prevents HIV from being passed on to others.”

“95% of people diagnosed in public clinics and private practices are on HIV treatment, with people newly diagnosed with HIV starting treatment sooner than ever before.”

“Added to that, NSW is running the world’s largest PrEP trial, EPIC-NSW. So we’re fighting this battle on three fronts.”

Full Press Release Here