Doctors urge people to get HIV test

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District is encouraging anyone who hasn't been tested for HIV in more than a year to do so in the lead up to World AIDS Day on December 1.

With early diagnosis offering the best chance of treatment and survival, the clinical director of Short Street Sexual Health Centre at St George Hospital Dr Josephine Lusk said HIV Awareness Week (November 23-30) was a good time to take a test, particularly if you have never done so.

"HIV testing is simple and confidential [and] there are now a variety of HIV tests available, including free tests," Dr Lusk said.

"You can get tested at your local GP or sexual health service, or if you want to test yourself at home, the dried blood spot testing kit can be delivered to you and results sent by text, email or phone."

Dr Lusk said those at higher risk of HIV could use a combination of prevention methods, such as HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms, to lower the chances.

"NSW has made significant progress towards the goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020, with a 13 per cent drop in the number of new diagnoses in NSW between January to September, compared to the previous five-year average," Dr Lusk said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the reduction was due to more people seeking early testing and treatment, and taking steps to prevent HIV transmission.

"A late HIV diagnosis can be life-threatening and increases the chances of passing on HIV to sexual partners," Dr Chant said.

"Early diagnosis means you can receive treatment, live a long, healthy life and prevent transmission to others."

Homosexual men have a higher risk of contracting HIV and accounted for 159 new cases of HIV in NSW between January to September 2019 this year.

"With almost 40 per cent of these men diagnosed with HIV in the late stage of infection, we are urging those at risk to get a test," Dr Chant said.

For information on HIV testing, phone NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 or click here