HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a virus that damages the immune system. Treatments are available for HIV but there are no vaccines and no cure.
HIV is a virus spread through body fluids that affects specific cells of the immune system called CD4 cells or T cells. Over time HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease.
HIV is preventable. HIV can be prevented by always using condoms when having sex, using new sterile injecting equipment for every injection (not sharing) and only getting tattoos and body piercings when you are sure that sterile equipment is used.
Other prevention options include PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis). People on PEP and PrEP take tablets to prevent HIV infection either before or after coming into contact with HIV.
Our services provide free testing, management, support, and treatment for HIV in a safe and private space.
Please refer to the guide on how HIV information is managed by selecting one of the links below:
- NSW Health Privacy Leaflet for HIV Patients (MLHD) (PDF 528.24KB)
- NSW Health Privacy Leaflet for HIV Patients (SNSWLHD) (PDF 284.17KB)
We run programs to increase awareness and knowledge of HIV, supply information resources, free condoms, and lubricant.
- Testing for HIV
- HIV monitoring, management, and treatment
- PEP - Post Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV
- PrEP- Pre Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV
We work with specific groups in our community:
- men who have sex with men
- people with HIV
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
- people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds
- people who inject drugs
- people recently released from prison
- sex industry workers
- young people at risk.
The best way to protect yourself and others from HIV is to practice safe sex. Always use a condom if you have vaginal or anal sex.
Using sterile needles and injecting equipment and not sharing with others will prevent you from becoming infected with HIV. For more information, visit the Needle and Syringe Program.
Treatment for HIV can improve your health outcomes and reduces the risk of passing on HIV to others. It is still recommended to use condoms and sterile injecting equipment.
Treatment today is now simpler with few side effects.
Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a four week course of treatment (tablets) that may prevent becoming infected with HIV after a high risk exposure such as sharing injecting equipment or condomless anal sex with someone who is possibly HIV positive.
PEP should be started as soon as possible after contact with HIV and no later than 72 hours.
Where you can access PEP
You can access PEP at Emergency Departments in NSW Public Hospitals and Sexual Health Clinics, you can also call the 24-hour PEP Hotline 1800 PEP on 1800 737 669.
Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) prevents people who do not have HIV becoming infected by taking a daily tablet. You can get a prescription for PrEP from your GP or sexual health service.
More information about how PrEP works visit Ending HIV.
Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV can improve your health outcomes. If you think you or your partners have been at risk of HIV infection you can have a blood test through your local sexual health clinic, GP or order a Dried Blood Spot test kit online from NSW Health.
The Dried Blood Spot (DBS) test is a new, free, easy, private, and accurate way to test for HIV.
DBS HIV testing is available for people living in New South Wales who are over 16 years old.
The test is for gay and other men who have sex with men, people from Asia or Africa and people who have current or previous sexual partners from Africa or Asia. The DBS test for people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or people who have ever injected a drug includes both HIV and Hepatitis C testing. For all other groups of people conventional HIV or hepatitis C testing may be more suitable.
The kit is ordered online and once you receive it; it involves taking a few drops of blood that you collect from yourself at home. You return the test in a reply-paid envelope and receive the result by phone, text or email. You don't need to go to a clinic or a doctor to do this test.
The STI and HIV testing tool includes recommendations for routine testing of HIV and sexual health.
Gay and men who have sex with men need to test regularly. To work out how often you should get tested use this test frequency calculator.
HIV cannot be cured however treatment is available and will lead to better health. Treatment is available from local sexual health services, infectious diseases specialists and specially trained GPs.
Treatment involves taking tablets every day to reduce the amount of virus in your body.
HIV for health professionals
The HIV and Related Services Program (HARP) unit is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health to coordinate sexual health services, the Needle Syringe Program and health promotion programs in Murrumbidgee and Southern NSW Local Health Districts. We also support and undertake education activities for health providers, other community service providers and community.
The NSW HIV Support Program provides advice and support for doctors when they diagnose someone with HIV.
By supporting doctors, people diagnosed with HIV can receive access to five key support services:
- Appropriate clinical management
- Psychosocial support
- Counselling about HIV treatment and prevention of transmission to others
- Contact tracing assistance
- Linkage to relevant specialist, community, and peer support services
The HSP Coordinator for Murrumbidgee and Southern NSW Local Health District is the Sexual Health Clinical Nurse Consultant.