CHECKS: Dr David Smith is performing HIV rapid tests with results known in 10 minutes, at the SHAIDS Clinic in Lismore.
CHECKS: Dr David Smith is performing HIV rapid tests with results known in 10 minutes, at the SHAIDS Clinic in Lismore. Patrick Gorbunovs

New 10-minute HIV test is free

FREE rapid HIV testing is available to all men who have sex with other men with results available within 10 minutes.

Dr David Smith, director of the Lismore Sexual Health Service (SHAIDS) said it was available daily in Lismore and at a fortnightly clinic in Byron Bay.

The test is part of a trial and uses a finger prick sample of two drops of blood, as is used for blood sugar and cholesterol readings.

A normal blood sample is also taken as part of the study.

The test is highly accurate but there can be occasional false positives.

"The NSW HIV Strategy for 2012-2015 - as launched by Minister for Health Jillian Skinner during World AIDS Day last year - supports increased testing, particularly in higher risk groups, treatment for those who are infected and increased prevention strategies.

"Part of this is the easy availability of testing for those at risk, in particular homosexually active men, and it is strongly encouraged.

"Rapid testing is seen as a way of making the testing easier," said Dr Smith.

International AIDS Day is tomorrow.

Government and community organisations have worked hard to reverse the latest infection figures across the country.

Diagnoses of HIV in NSW increased by 24% in 2012 across all ages and all groups, but Dr Smith said "it's not clear whether the increase in diagnoses in NSW reflects an increasing level of infection or because of more testing".

"In the Northern Rivers, there has been no significant increase in new diagnoses recently," he added.

Prevention is the key to controlling the infection rates, and the use of condoms is the key measure in HIV prevention.