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The rise of targeted HIV oral rapid testing in Australia

General awareness of HIV in Australia has declined since the mid 1980s when the “Grim Reaper” campaign depicted the threat of AIDS to everyday Australians. This is due largely to antiretroviral therapy, which has improved quality of life and reduced mortality among people with AIDS; but the incidence of HIV in Australia has steadily increased since the nadir of 724 infections in 1999, to a 15-year high of 1236 cases in 2013.1 This increase has happened despite 90% uptake of antiretroviral therapy among patients with HIV,1 more of them attaining undetectable viral load (58% in 2004 compared with 88% in 2013)1 and ongoing prevention efforts (safer sex promotion, testing campaigns, post-exposure prophylaxis).

Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to account for most diagnoses (85%) of newly acquired HIV infection (ie, acquired in the past 12 months).1 A multidimensional approach — including promotion of safer behaviour, increased HIV testing, early diagnosis, antiretroviral therapy and biomedical prevention — is called for. Australia’s Seventh national HIV strategy 2014–2017 aims to reduce the national incidence of HIV infection by 50% by 2015.2

In New South Wales, data from the first three quarters of 2014…