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

HIV Testing is recommended for all pregnant women even where there are no known risks. Identifying infection in early pregnancy, and starting treatment, can reduce the chances of HIV being passed to a baby to less than one per cent. 

HIV is transmitted via blood or sexual contact and can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for many years. 

Many GPs may only ever diagnose HIV once in their career. To assist, the NSW Ministry of Health has established the HIV Support Program (HSP) to provide expert advice to clinicians, at the critical time when a new diagnosis of HIV is being made. A positive HIV test in the laboratory will prompt a notification to your local HIV expert to call you as the diagnosing doctor to offer support with providing the diagnosis to the patient, identifying referral pathways to specialist care and assistance with partner notification. You may also self-request support from the HSP by calling the NSW Health HIV Surveillance Officer on 9391 9195.

As part of the program a range of resources have been developed both for diagnosing doctors as well as newly diagnosed patients.  All resources may be found 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.  The new antenatal ‘yellow card’ has been updated to include HIV testing (available from July).  Support will be provided to you in the event of a positive result. Together we can end HIV.