Image via ABC.
There has been a big surge in the number of men having rapid HIV tests since the 20-minute test was made available in Australia’s major cities.
In Queensland this month, the HIV Foundation is expanding the popular service to the Gold Coast.
But some doctors are warning the rapid screening should be backed up with a full blood test and they say more work needs to be done to increase screening for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Dr Ryan Williams spends one night a week volunteering at a gay sex club in Brisbane’s CBD. The club’s staff help promote the sexual health service to clients.
“It’s the hook that I think for many people is like ‘well, I probably should get myself checked out. It’s been a while, I had a couple of partners’,” he said.
“A lot of people come in and say ‘I just need the old grease and oil change, doc’, which is sexual health code for ‘please check me for everything’.”
The increasing availability of rapid HIV testing has made it possible to offer a check-up in just 20 minutes.
“We put the rapid test on to cook, to quote unquote, and we let it sit there and while it’s cooking I then sit there with the patient. We then go through when was your last sexual health test,” Dr Williams said.
Prior to the rapid HIV test being made available in 2013, the rates of HIV testing had been decreasing.
Dr Williams also works at Clinic 30, run by the Queensland AIDS Council (QAC).
“Last Tuesday night was hectic. We had 20 patients through in two hours with just one doctor and two nurses so that was the definition of hectic,” he said.
Patient Chris said it was good to see so many other people being tested and all the resources being made available.