Community-based rapid HIV testing will mean that people only need to attend once and will have their test result in 20 minutes.
A community-based rapid HIV testing trial run by the Burnet Institute and the Victorian AIDS Council will be operational by mid-2013.
Minister for Health, David Davis announced the trial at the 25th Midsumma Festival at Birrarung Marr saying rapid HIV testing could reduce barriers to testing.
“By providing affordable, accessible, convenient, rapid HIV testing we can reduce a number of barriers to testing, such as the need to return for results and provide an incentive to frequent testing by getting results in 20 minutes or less,” Mr Davis said.
“If more people test more often we would potentially see people accessing HIV treatments sooner and improving their long-term health and quality of life.”
Head of Burnet’s HIV Research Program, Dr Mark Stoové said with HIV notification rates in Australia at historic highs, it is important that obstacles to testing among risk populations are reduced.
“By being diagnosed in a timely fashion, people are able to modify their sexual risk practices to prevent onward transmission to their sexual partners and are able to access treatment sooner,” Dr Stoové said.
“In Australia, we estimate that between 20 and 30 per cent of gay men with HIV are unaware of their positive status, we hope to reduce that through the introduction of rapid testing.”
Current clinic-based HIV testing involves sending blood specimens for laboratory testing with the patient required to make a subsequent appointment to receive their test results days later.
“To meet current testing frequency guidelines, this means that some high risk men need to attend up to eight clinic appointments a year. Community-based rapid testing will mean that people only need to attend once and will have their test result in 20 minutes,” Dr Stoové said.