Further to the announcement of Victoria being the first Australian state to offer rapid HIV testing, AFAO (The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) has announced that community-based rapid HIV testing is planned to be available from July 2013.
The trial, which is expected to by up and running by July 2013, is the result a partnership between the Department of Health Victoria, the Burnet Institute and the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC).
Full details are yet to be developed, but it is hoped the testing site will be housed in a standalone shopfront, offering a walk-in service that is easily to access, and available on evenings and weekends.
The service will prioritise ease of access and convenience, as well as fostering an atmosphere in which gay men feel very welcome and ‘at home’. This will be supported by having peer workers (a mix of paid staff and volunteers) providing the service, who will probably also be overseen by an experienced HIV and sexual health nurse.
Appropriate pre and post test discussions will be part of the service, as well as referrals to medical and sexual health services as needed.
The provision of rapid HIV testing will enable a big reduction in time to gain test results, reducing the one week wait down to 20 minutes.
It’s important to note that the Alere rapid HIV test kits approved for use in Australia can have occasional false positive results so any test that returns a positive or indeterminate result will require an additional blood test.
Unlike oral swab rapid HIV testing which can have false negative results, the Alere kit is noted to be 100% sensitive so a negative result can be considered 100% true.
With testing and results able to be completed in a 20 minute time frame gay men will no longer require a second appointment to collect results. For persons at higher risk of HIV infection this can reduce 8 visits to sexual health or a GP each year down to 4 twenty minute visits to the new clinics.
While the government reports it will cost $500,000 to launch the trial it is anticipated that the testing will be at no cost to the user.
I look forward to seeing this trial as it launches and hope that it will extended to GP’s as well as sexual health nurses and doctors.
For my American readers, have you experienced rapid HIV testing?
I’d love to hear your reports.
Yours in good health.