A caravan providing Australia’s first pop-up rapid HIV testing site able to give results within 30 minutes has been established in Sydney.
The initiative aims to encourage at-risk people to take the quick and easy test to help curb a recent alarming rise in HIV infections in the state.
The caravan at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst will provide free tests between Wednesday and December 1, which is World AIDS Day.
The process involves a simple finger prick, and people can opt to receive an SMS alert to come back and pick up their results.
Launching the pop-up test on Tuesday, NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said making HIV testing easier would help people become more proactive about their sexual health.
“It’s to encourage people to come in and take that very important first step,” she told reporters.
The caravan was an example of how new advances in HIV testing and treatment were being adapted to combat a rise in cases, she said.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said despite advances in medicine, many people were not getting tested regularly because they found the process stressful.
“We want to break down those barriers,” she said.
“This way we can encourage early treatment if people are HIV positive, and prevent transmission.”
Dr Chant said that while there were 18 established rapid testing centres in NSW, the pop-up site was an eyecatching way to raise awareness.
In 2012 there was a 24 per cent rise in HIV infections across NSW, with 81 per cent of new cases in the gay community.
The NSW government has set itself ambitious targets to substantially drive down HIV transmission by 2020.
ACON chief executive Nicholas Parkhill said early diagnosis and treatment was key to reducing the number of HIV transmissions.
“Diagnosis no longer equals death,” he said.