a[TEST] Proves Important Sexual Health Intervention

a[TEST] Proves Important Sexual Health Intervention

11 Aug 2021

NSW State Reference Laboratory for HIV at St Vincent’s Applied Medical Research (AMR), working in collaboration with ACON, Sydney Sexual Health Centre and Kirkton Road Centre and the NSW Ministry of Health, have been running a number of community based services specifically for gay and bi-sexual men, supporting them with the prioritisation of their sexual health by facilitating non-judgemental, proactive treatment and testing for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs).

The Clinics, known as a[TEST] provide a safe, judgement free space for men to speak openly about their sexual behaviours, where anecdotally, they have previously felt unwilling to access sexual health services due to stigma and perceived shame. The free service is peer-led and supported by specialist sexual health nursing staff.
A recent study of the service, published in AIDS Journal, found that the service was found to be a highly effective model for testing, having captured a high proportion of new HIV diagnoses in NSW. Indeed the Service has diagnosed an eighth of new cases of HIV over a period of five years.

Of the clients surveyed, all of them said they would use the service again and recommend it to others, mostly citing the non-judgmental environment as their main take-away from the service.

By cultivating a stigma free environment, the Clinics have been able to reach a number of clients who may otherwise not have sought testing. With early detection and treatment, people living with HIV can live full and healthy lives.

"St Vincent’s is proud to support the community-based peer-led HIV testing and sexual health service, a[TEST].  Along with our partners, St Vincent’s State Reference Laboratory for HIV has provided the essential supervisory relationship linking elements of quality assurance and safety standards for medical testing to support the delivery of HIV rapid (point-of-care) testing in NSW. We have trained the HIV point-of-care testing workforce, some of which were health professionals and many who were peer educators and allied health personnel, that have undoubtedly contributed to the success of the service.”

Congratulations to all involved. 

For more information or to access this service, please see click here.