On the eve of Mardi Gras, one of Australia's biggest gay and lesbian health organisations has called on the federal government to fast track a key anti-HIV drug.
New South Wales’ leading health promotion organisation specialising in HIV and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex health says Australia is lagging behind other countries in the fight against HIV.
Faced with a 20 year high in HIV infection, Acon wants to use the prominence of Mardi Gras to drive home its message of early intervention.
Acon CEO Nicolas Parkhill said a key part of that is a new treatment known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or Truvada.
"Prep is a drug that negative people can take and it stops the onward transmission of the virus, protects them from becoming infected,” he said.
“We need the government to really look at that and fast-tracking that. The evidence is irrefutable.
“Prep works as a prevention tool. We need it here in Australia.”
Mr Parkhill said he was keen to see new testing devices for HIV that can provide results in 15, 20 and 30 minutes.
Acon will be taking part in Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade to make sure its health message is heard over the party weekend.
Mr Parkhill said it was important to “always stay safe”.
“Condoms remain critical, but test!” he said.
“It's imperative that people know their status. We know that if you're positive the sooner you can get treatment, the support you need to go on treatment, the better outcomes you will have and also it minimises the chance of you passing on the virus.”