This HIV Testing Week 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.
Nearly one in ten Australians living with HIV are unaware they have the virus and may be unknowingly passing on the virus to others. They also risk missing out on getting HIV treatments on time due to late diagnosis.
The Testing Week campaign aims to increase awareness of HIV testing and encourages people to test regularly.
There are a variety of ways to get tested for HIV, according to Professor David Templeton, Head of Department, Sexual Health Medicine at the RPA Sexual Health of the Sydney Local Health District.
“It is easy to get tested for HIV, especially as people across NSW can now order a free home testing kit online.”The HIV home testing kit, Dried Blood Spot (DBS) HIV Test 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 and results management. 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 Sydney Local Health District based Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service is supporting the campaign by undertaking an ethnic media campaign across eight languages to promote home HIV testing.
The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, in partnership with key community organisations have launched a campaign to encourage African, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities living in NSW to get tested for hepatitis B.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is a common virus that causes damage to the liver. If left untreated, it can lead to liver cancer.
There were more than 230,034 people living with chronic (long term) hepatitis B in Australia in 2016 with about 83,812 living in NSW.
Funded by the NSW Ministry of Health, the Do you have Hepatitis B? Find Out. Get tested. campaign features multilingual print and digital resources developed in consultation with communities urging them to get tested for hepatitis B.
The campaign will run across key community print media and radio with promotions across relevant social media channels.
The Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub’s Director, Barbara Luisi, said many people are unaware that they are living with hepatitis B.
“There are often no symptoms of hepatitis B, so it is important that people get tested before it’s too late.
“However, effective treatments are available that reduce the risk of liver cancer. So getting tested could save your life.
“We are delighted for the opportunity to promote hepatitis B testing and treatment in our diverse communities,” Ms Luisi said.
Trained bilingual Cultural Support Workers are available to deliver hepatitis B education sessions to community organisations and information resources are easily accessible from the MHAHS website.
Shona-speaking Cultural Support Worker, Lucy Mukoko hopes the campaign will increase awareness and understanding of hepatitis B.
“People may not understand the potential risks of delaying testing and treatment. The campaign will empower our community to talk to their doctor and their families about hepatitis B and liver cancer.”
“Do not let hepatitis B threaten the wellbeing of your family and community. Talk to your doctor and ask a for hepatitis B test today.”
The campaign released four key points to tackle hepatitis B among diverse communities:
- People from diverse communities should talk to their doctor and ask if they are at risk of having chronic hepatitis B. All conversations with your doctor remain private in Australia.
- The only way to know if you have chronic hepatitis B is by having a specific blood test.
- Hepatitis B is common in many diverse communities, although most remain unaware and do not have any symptoms.
- Effective treatments are available that control the hepatitis B virus and reduce liver damage and the risk of liver cancer.
Visit Are you living with hepatitis B? Find out. Get tested. campaign page.
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This World AIDS Day campaign is urging wider community engagement to tackle HIV. The #EveryJourneyCounts campaign acknowledges the diversity of people affected by HIV and encourages people living with HIV to participate fully in community life.
The campaign acknowledges that World AIDS Day means different things to different people, according to Barbara Luisi, Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub of Sydney Local Health District.
“For some, World AIDS Day is a time to remember and reflect on the past and a time to show their support for people living with HIV. For others, it is an opportunity to celebrate the strength and diversity of all communities affected by HIV and stand with them in solidarity and remembrance.”
There were more than 37 million people worldwide living with HIV in 2018 with more than 27,000 Australians estimated to be living with HIV in 2017. Fourteen percent of all people newly diagnosed with HIV spoke a language other than English at home and 1 in 10 Australians living with HIV don’t know they’ve the virus.
The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) is supporting World AIDS Day with limited release of a new multilingual resource HIV. What you need to know. Developed in consultation with the Arabic, Chinese, English, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese communities, the new booklet provides the most up-to-date information to connect community members with HIV prevention, testing and treatment services in NSW. You can download or order the resource, ahead of a full scale launch in the New Year, at www.mhahs.org.au.
World AIDS Day is an amazing opportunity to commit to a future free of HIV, according to Dr Fiona Fargie, Staff Specialist at RPA Sexual Health in Sydney Local Health District.
“World AIDS Day encourages people to come together against HIV, by learning how to protect themselves and others from HIV and knowing where to get tested for HIV and receive treatment,” Dr Fargie said.
HIV is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Condoms still remain an important way of preventing the transmission of HIV along with new interventions such as PrEP.
You can participate in World AIDS Day on December 1 by wearing a red ribbon, the symbol of solidarity for people living with HIV. Australian World AIDS Day activities can be viewed on www.worldaidsday.org.au.
Some of the major sexual health clinics In Australia include:
NSW: RPA (02) 9515 1200 / Sydney (02) 9382 7440 / Liverpool (02) 9827 8022
VIC: Melbourne (03) 9347 0244
SA: Adelaide (08) 8226 6025
QLD: Brisbane (07) 3227 8666
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Members of the diverse communities across NSW are being urged to take action to test, treat and prevent hepatitis B.
Speaking ahead of the launch of Are you living with hepatitis B? Find Out. Get Tested campaign following focus group consultations, leaders from African, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities say the campaign provides an opportunity for communities to come together and take action against hepatitis B.
The community leaders said: “Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection and can cause serious health problems, including liver cancer. That’s why it’s important that our people take positive action and get tested, and if found to have hepatitis B, speak to their doctor about regular check-ups and treatment. These simple actions can save lives.”
Figures released by National Centre show there are approximately 230,034 people living with long term hepatitis B in Australia in 2016 with about 83,812 living in NSW.
Chronic hepatitis B disproportionately affects people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, particularly those born in regions where hepatitis B is common such as East and South-East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa.
The community leaders released a list of actions that each member of the community could take against hepatitis B:
• Acknowledge that hepatitis B is common in many diverse communities.
• Understand that chronic hepatitis B can cause serious liver damage, even liver cancer but has no symptoms.
• Know that the most common way hepatitis B is passed on is from mother-to-child at birth.
• Get tested for hepatitis B. If you have it, there are treatments that can prevent liver cancer.
• If you have hepatitis B, talk to your doctor about regular checks and treatment options.
The Are you living with hepatitis B? Find Out. Get Tested campaign is coordinated by the MHAHS and emphasizes hepatitis B testing and treatment.
Visit www.mhahs.org.au for more information on hepatitis B and resources related to the campaign.