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Eliminating HIV transmission in New South Wales: the critical role of testing

The “ending HIV” movement calls for new and innovative approaches to testing

In Australia, about 1000 new HIV diagnoses are notified annually. In 2012, after 10 years of relative stability, the number of HIV notifications in New South Wales sharply increased. Most other states and territories have experienced a similar trend. There were 409 new notifications of HIV reported in NSW in 2012; a 24% increase compared with 2011.1 In 2013, there were 357 notifications; a fall of 13% from 2012 but still higher than any year since 2007. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 78% of all notifications.2

In the 30 years since the first Australian HIV case was recorded in Sydney, approaches to HIV diagnosis, treatment and prevention have evolved in response to emerging scientific evidence. Thanks to the availability of effective antiretroviral treatment, receiving a diagnosis of HIV in Australia is no longer the death sentence it once was. Instead, living with HIV today carries with it the lifelong health and social consequences of a unique chronic disease.

A new era

In 2011, a large clinical trial demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment not only effectively treats HIV but also prevents HIV transmission within serodiscordant heterosexual couples.3 The results were heralded as the scientific breakthrough…