Conference Stream: Intersections
Presenter: Marie Reilly
Presentation Title: Partnerships in HIV testing to raise MSM awareness of HIV testing in regional NSW
Program schedule: Friday 14 August 2015 at 16:15
Duration: 30 mins
Men who have sex with men (MSM) living in or visiting regional NSW currently have limited access to rapid HIV testing. ACON in partnership with community and government implemented the first mobile rapid HIV testing service at a large regional community event. Education and advocacy was required with all stakeholders on the appropriateness of this intervention and the impact of HIV stigma as a barrier to testing for MSM. Rapid HIV testing was offered over two days at the Tropical Fruits Festival 2013 in Lismore NSW. Education with community partners around the Ending HIV campaign, regional MSM testing patterns and barriers to testing were reinforced by encouraging influential community members openly discussing the need to normalise HIV testing. All stakeholders moved from a position of significant reservation to agreed risk management. In total 274 people engaged with the service and 49 MSM tested. All who tested reported they were comfortable testing for HIV in that setting and would recommend the service to others. Additional qualitative feedback beyond those who tested was both critical and supportive of the testing service and included experiences of reduced HIV stigma. Through advocacy and partnership rapid HIV testing at this event was successful in both raising awareness of rapid HIV testing and decreasing felt HIV stigma. Expansion of HIV testing services through community partnership is an important step towards increasing HIV screening among MSM. This is critical to achieving the NSW HIV Strategy target of reducing sexual transmission of HIV among MSM 80% by 2020.