The HIV test is positive! Now what…? (An update on the HIV Support Program)

HIV Testing is recommended for people in high risk groups and for people with clinical presentations that might be due to underlying HIV infection. The HIV Testing Table guides testing of people such as men who have sex with men, pregnant women and anyone diagnosed with another sexually transmissible infection; while clinical indicator conditions such as unexplained weight loss or oral candidiasis should also trigger HIV testing.

Diagnosing HIV infection and starting treatment as early as possible, provides the best health outcomes for the patient and dramatically reduces the risk of onward transmission.

You may make an HIV diagnosis only once in your career so Health Protection NSW has established the HIV Support Program (HSP) to provide expert advice for doctors at the time that the new HIV diagnosis is made.

A positive HIV test prompts a notification from the laboratory via the NSW Health HIV Surveillance team to your local HIV expert who will call you to offer support with giving the diagnosis to the patient. Assistance will also be given so that you can provide the patient with five key support services considered essential around the time of HIV diagnosis:

  • rapid linkage to specialist HIV care and access to treatment
  • psychosocial support
  • counselling about prevention of transmission of HIV
  • support for partner notification
  • linkage to specialist and community support services.

You can also request support directly from the HSP by calling a NSW Health HIV surveillance officer on 9391 9195.

A range of resources for diagnosing doctors as well as newly diagnosed patients are available on the NSW Health Ending HIV webpage.

Requesting an HIV test is now easier than ever. There is no longer a requirement to conduct extensive pre-test counselling. Simple informed consent (not written consent) is all that is required.