A leading Geelong health expert has urged people at risk of HIV to get tested so they can access the latest treatments, as a new sexual health clinic opens its doors in the city’s north.
Professor Eugene Athan OAM, the head of Barwon Health’s Department of Infectious Disease, said while the infection can be managed by taking medication and living a healthy lifestyle, the new facility in Norlane will make it easier for people to stay up to date with sexual health checks.
“We now have medications and treatment that mean people with HIV can live a relatively normal life,” Professor Athan said.
“However, without a diagnosis, patients are unable to start these treatments.”
He said the new clinic at Barwon Health North will make it easier to access specialist care, including HIV support and testing, and complement existing services at University Hospital Geelong.
The Barwon Reproductive and Sexual Health service, known as BRaSH, will also work to reduce the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases.
Clinical Nurse Consultant Rochelle Hamilton said it would allow for a more open conversation around testing and treatment, which will ultimately lead to reduced risk of transmission.
“Our team at the Barwon South West Public Health Unit and the Barwon Reproductive and Sexual Health (BRaSH) clinic can support people across the region to manage their sexual health and wellbeing. We aim to ensure people feel comfortable accessing services related to their sexual health,” she said.
The launch of the facility comes as health professionals mark World AIDS Day, which is this year themed around inclusion, respect and equity.
Staff at BRaSH will wear red ribbons on Friday in a show of support.
World AIDS Day is designed to provide support for people living with the infection, raise awareness about prevention and treatment, eliminate stigma and discrimination, and remember people who have died from AIDS-related illness.
Barwon Reproductive and Sexual Health Clinic is open on Tuesdays between 2pm and 7pm at Barwon Health North, 155 Princess Hwy, Norlane.
The University Hospital Geelong clinic is located on Level 3 of the Outpatients section, which is accessible via the Bellarine St entrance.
Walk-in appointments are available at both venues.
More information is available at barwonhealth.org.au.