ACT News

Free tests for sexually transmitted infections offered during ACT Testing Month

As HIV infections continue to rise across Australia, health organisations in the ACT are raising awareness of sexually transmitted infections and encouraging young people to get tested.

The inaugural ACT Testing Month offers free testing for sexually transmitted infections across the territory.

Health check: AIDS Action Council ACT education officer Ben Martin undergoes a sexual health test at the hands of ...
Health check: AIDS Action Council ACT education officer Ben Martin undergoes a sexual health test at the hands of registered nurse Maudie Todkill. Photo: Jay Cronan

"People can be completely unaware that they have an STI, let alone HIV, and then can pass it on to other people," AIDS Action Council acting executive director Philippa Moss said. "So we're about promoting safe sex practices and staying safe."

That included offering testing and treatment for people with a positive diagnosis, she said.

"We want to get them and treat them early, because then their chance of transmitting it is decreased."

Ms Moss said the council knew of about 350 people in the ACT who were infected with HIV.

Promoting the screening program, she said: "It's quick, it's confidential and you can have your results SMSed you between 24 hours and two days, depending on the tests you do."

Labor assembly member Yvette Berry launched ACT Testing Month on Saturday and said she was happy to support the AIDS Action Council's campaign.

"It's been really great to be part of a government that is supporting and working together with organisations like [these] ... The work that your organisations do in advocating and supporting the community is so important," she said.

Deputy chief minister Andrew Barr, who attended the SpringOut festival opening on Saturday, said it was particularly important for young gay people to get tested.

"The campaigns and the marches are a distant memory for many of the younger generation, so events like today help get the message out to the younger community," he said.

The month has been organised by the council in partnership with ACT Health, ACT Medicare Local and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT.

To find out more, visit aidsaction.org.au/testingmonth.