This HIV Testing Week (1-7 June) is calling for people to know their HIV status despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Aimed at helping people find out their HIV status, the campaign urges people including those from diverse cultural backgrounds, to get tested for HIV.
HIV testing is a vital first step to tackling HIV, according to Barbara Luisi, Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub at Sydney Local Health District.
“HIV testing can put people in control of their HIV status. Where a test is positive, effective treatments mean people can live a long, healthy life and are less likely to pass on the virus. Regardless of the test result, testing also helps make people HIV aware, giving them the facts and confidence to prevent new infections, and ultimately putting an end to HIV,” said Ms Luisi.HIV Testing Week is promoting awareness of a HIV home testing kit called, Dried Blood Spot (DBS) Test, which allows people to order a free self-sampling kit online, take their sample in the privacy of their own home and send it to a laboratory for testing. You do not need to go to a clinic or doctor to do this test. Testing kits can be ordered from http://www.hivtest.health.nsw.gov.au which also has information in a range of languages including plain English.
The DBS test results are kept private and confidential.
The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service is supporting the campaign by undertaking an ethnic media campaign to promote DBS HIV home testing across eight languages.
NSW’s leading HIV organisation Positive Life has published an online toolkit providing people living with HIV with information on COVID-19.
The weekly digital publication is for people living with HIV, their supporters, as well those who work in the NSW HIV sector. The toolkit contains articles, tips, factsheets and practical resources as well as links to relevant services for those who need support and live in NSW.
To subscribe the toolkit, visit https://www.positivelife.org.au/latest-news/covid19-resources.html
To date more than 40 of our CSWs have collaborated to develop more than 200 multilingual resources. These include:
• Seek Help and Tell staff posters in 21 languages
• Hospital visitor COVID-19 alert in 5 languages
• Respiratory hygiene etiquette posters in 21 languages
• Social media tiles in 5 languages.
The team is proud to be part of this collective effort, according to Barbara Luisi, Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub.
“We are proud of our diverse team and thank them for working closely with key health agencies to provide timely and up-to-date information so we can keep our communities safe,” said Ms Luisi.
For more information about COVID-19 and to download multilingual resources visit https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx
The reassurance came as AFAO teamed up with Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) to issue a factsheet Making Sense of COVID19 – LGBTIQ and HIV Communities.
Available on AFAO website, the factsheet urges people to keep taking HIV medication as prescribed and provides the basics about COVID-19 including what it is, how it spreads, how to prevent infection, and who within the LGBTQI community is most vulnerable and susceptible to infection.
President of NAPWHA, Scott Harlum, is aware that people with HIV may be feeling anxious, especially with regard to supply of anti-retroviral medication.
“NAPWHA can also reassure people with HIV that our anti-retroviral medications are safe. NAPWHA is maintaining regular contact with suppliers who assure us there is sufficient supply available and already in the country to meet demand.
“We know that providing timely and accurate information for people with HIV is key to minimising anxiety in the community. We have published information based on the best advice currently available to us, and will continue to provide updates on COVID-19 for people with HIV as the science develops and we know more.
To read the factsheet go to www.afao.org.au/our-work/coronavirus-covid-19/