NSW HIV prevention organisation, ACON, has launched a new, contactless HIV testing service that will support men to test for HIV from the comfort of their own home.
The new service allows men to connect with a trained peer via virtual appointment and be provided with information about two different home testing options – the HIV self-testing kit or the Dried Blood Spot collection kit – before a kit is mailed out to them.
The service also offers a follow up chat by phone or video call to provide further information, and referral support if needed.
The new service is free with no Medicare card needed and is available to all gay men and men who have sex with men living on the Central Coast.
ACON CEO, Nicolas Parkhill, said youTEST is all about providing men with a new option to get a HIV test during the time of COVID-19.
“We know our communities are engaged when it comes to looking after their sexual health, but disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult for some to get tested for HIV.
“With pressure on frontline health workers, we understand that some local sexual health services have been disrupted and there are reports that some are putting off accessing regular health checks at this time.
“YouTEST allows men to continue their HIV testing routine and know their HIV status without having to visit a clinic,” Parkhill explained.
The new service is a variation on ACON’s aTEST service, which sees sexual health screening and sexual health information delivered by peers, supported by nurses, in community-based settings.
“Since it was introduced in 2013, tens of thousands of guys have accessed aTEST clinics,” Parkhill said.
“This new contactless service will be based on similar principles as the aTEST [with] layers of support to help men overcome barriers such as concern that they don’t know how to use the test kit, fear of a positive result, or avoiding screening due to privacy concerns,” Parkhill said.
Parkhill said regular testing for HIV is still vital to preventing onward transmission.
“With ongoing testing, and the use of evidence-based HIV prevention strategies such as condoms, PrEP and undetectable viral load, our communities will continue to drive down new HIV transmissions in NSW,” he said.
Press release, Jun 2
David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications