World AIDS Day is observed worldwide on 1 December each year. This year Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) will join hundreds of events taking place throughout NSW to mark World AIDS Day and promote awareness of HIV testing.
Western NSW LHD Coordinator Blood Borne Virus Prevention, Georgiana Simpson, said this year’s World AIDS Day theme for NSW is ‘Ending HIV’, and focuses on three key areas: Testing More, Treating Early and HIV Prevention.
“Preventing HIV is still very important. About 10,500 people living in NSW are diagnosed with HIV infection. It is estimated that another 10 per cent of people in NSW may be unaware they are infected with HIV. We are committed to changing this and making it easier for more people to test for HIV and help end HIV in NSW by 2020.
“To end HIV, more people need to get tested for HIV, more often. The earlier people know their status, the better their outlook,” Ms Simpson said.
New HIV infections are detected earlier through increased HIV testing. The new era in HIV testing in Western NSW LHD is faster and easier with extended hours and drop in clinics at Dubbo and Orange Sexual Health Centres and by appointment at GP clinics.
People living with HIV in Western NSW LHD can contact Dubbo Sexual Health (tel: 1800 851 700) and Orange Sexual Health (tel: 1800 816 925) for an appointment with HIV sexual health specialists.
“The most effective way for people to protect themselves and their partners in reducing the spread of HIV is to always use condoms with new and casual sex partners and have regular HIV and STI tests. We need to encourage people to use condoms and get tested regularly to help us end HIV,” Ms Simpson said.
HIV can affect people of all ages, genders, races and cultures. In addition to gay men, all people at risk of HIV should be tested, especially people from countries with high rates of HIV, and anyone having had unprotected sex with a new or casual partner.
“Increasing HIV testing rates is vital, as many people who have not been tested recently do not know they are HIV positive, and are possibly transmitting HIV to others.
“Through the remarkable advances in testing and treatment and continued promotion of safe behaviour we now have the means to achieve the goal of Ending HIV,” Ms Simpson said.
As part of World AIDS Day, the Health District will be holding the following local events to increase community awareness about HIV and HIV testing:
• World AIDS Day banner will be displayed on the Orange Civic Centre Building (along with the red lighting) for the Paint the Town Red event for World Aids Day 2014 from Monday 24 November, 2014 until Tuesday 2 December, 2014.
• Kite St Community Health Centre will feature red lighting as well as a rainbow path and a red ribbon tree from 24 November, 2014 until Tuesday 2 December 2014.
• A professional update will be hosted in collaboration with Western Medicare local, STIPU and Positive Life NSW, for local GPs on the evening of the 1st Dec. Local S100 prescriber Ken Hazelton, Dr Dominic Rowley from Sydney Sexual Health Centre and a Dianne Nyoni from Positive Life NSW will be presenting.
For more information about Orange events please contact Roisin Dyer: 02 6392 8600
• World Aids Day banner will be displayed on the Western Plains Cultural Centre building from 28 November until 5 December 2014.
• Dubbo Sexual Health Clinic will be at the Western Institute of Tafe - Yarradamurra Centre on Monday 24 November 2014 with a World Aids Day information stall with giveaways and $20 gift cards to be won.
For more Information about Dubbo event please contact Georgian Simpson on: 02 6330 5942
Bourke and Lightning Ridge:
• Sexual Health Nurses are partnering with Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Sexual Health Nurse and will be hosting a series of healthcare staff capacity education sessions and general community awareness advertising, including the distribution of ‘GP Starter’ packs to increase awareness that HIV testing is everybody’s business.
For more information contact Kim Grant at Bourke on: 02 6870 8872 or Chrissie Little at Lightning Ridge on: 02 6829 9900
Media Contact: For interviews, please contact Blood Borne Virus Prevention Program Coordinator, Georgiana Simpson on (02) 6339-5187.