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14 Aug 2019

Amended law improves access to HIV testing

The Andrews Labor Government has fixed an outdated law and opened the door for more medical professionals to test for HIV in Victoria.

Legislation passed the Victorian Parliament on Wednesday to amend the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, which singled out HIV testing for special requirements.

The new legislation will mean that Victorians can access HIV testing just by visiting their local health clinic, GP or pathology service, the same way they access blood tests for other blood borne viruses.

Doherty Institute Director and leading HIV cure researcher, Professor Sharon Lewin, said these changes will go a long way to reducing the burden of HIV testing and the stigma associated with it.

“The outdated laws created unnecessary barriers to HIV testing,” Professor Lewin said. 

“Making an HIV test easily accessible will encourage more people to get tested if they believe they may be at risk of having contracted HIV. Without a test, people don’t know if they are infected. Knowing you are infected mean you can access life saving treatments”

Before this change, testing for HIV was unnecessarily complex, and time-consuming. It was particularly difficult for regional and rural Victorians, who often had to travel long distances to get tested.

The amendment also removes requirements that meant medical professionals had to ensure a person was given prescribed information before carrying out or authorising a test for HIV and before advising them of the results.

Victorian Minister for Health, Jenny Mikakos, said this small change will make a world of difference when it comes to reducing the stigma attached to HIV and improving access to testing.

“We’re striving for a future without new HIV transmissions, but there’s still more work to do,” Minister Mikakos said.