Media Release - NSLHD

November 23, 2016


One in six people diagnosed with HIV in NSW report heterosexual exposure, and at least 10 per cent of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus and could unknowingly pass it onto others.

Those are the surprising statistics Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) hopes will prompt more people to get tested for HIV.

Dr Rosalind Foster, Clinical Director of NSLHD sexual health services, said once a person is diagnosed they can start treatment and improve their health outcome as well as prevent the virus from being passed onto others.


​"A person with HIV who is on treatment in 2016 can expect a near-normal life expectancy and to live a healthy life," Dr Foster said.

"Health professionals now view and treat HIV like any other chronic manageable condition."

In the week leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, health professionals across NSW are encouraging people ‘at risk’ of HIV to be tested.

In addition to encouraging gay and homosexually active men to continue regular testing, NSW Health is also encouraging the following groups to get a test:

  • Heterosexual men and women at risk of HIV e.g. men who identify as heterosexual but who have sex with men and people who inject drugs

  • People from countries where there are high rates of HIV and people who have had unprotected sex while travelling.

"It’s important for people to know that it has never been easier to get tested. There is now a mix of high quality, safe and innovative HIV testing services available, including an after-hours service and a 24-hour turnaround for results. HIV testing is fast, free and confidential," Dr Foster said.

HIV facts: Around 10,000 people are living in NSW with diagnosed HIV infection. Most new HIV infections reported in 2015 were in homosexually active men (81 per cent) with heterosexual exposure accounting for 15 per cent of all newly reported infections. Almost a third (29 per cent) of people were diagnosed at a late stage of infection.

"Many new HIV infections come from people who do not know that they have HIV. HIV testing is essential to ending HIV transmission in NSW by 2020," Dr Foster said.

HIV testing is available at a range of different health services:

  • GPs

  • Family planning clinics

  • Aboriginal medical services

  • Sexual health clinics

For confidential information on where to get an HIV test people can call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624.

In the lead up to World AIDS Day visit to learn more about HIV testing and living with HIV. 

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