The number of people infected with HIV in Queensland has doubled in the past 10 years.

Free rapid HIV tests are now being introduced by the State Government, in an attempt to combat the problem.

Sarah Orr reports.


In 1987 the Grim Reaper ad was used to scare the public into taking HIV seriously.

More than two decades later, health professionals warn the message has been forgotten.

In an effort to turn that around, rapid HIV tests will be available from sexual health clinics from June this year.

Dr Darren Russel, Cairns Base Hospital: “It’s similar to a pregnancy test except it’s done with blood and takes a little bit longer.”

Healthy Communities Charity in Newstead has tested about five people each week since trials began in November.

Evie Ryder, Healthy Communities: “I think it’s a really good first step, having rapid HIV testing available, it has the possibility to increase testing and I hope it does.”

Old methods of HIV testing left people waiting weeks to hear their results. Now with the rapid test kit people can know within half an hour minutes whether they test negative or positive.

Eighty eight per cent of those infected with the virus are male.

The health minister says the rapid test is the beginning of better sexual health in Queensland.

Lawrence Springborg, Health Minister: “They may not have got around to being tested, it may be too invasive, too concerned about it, but if somehting is easy, if you’ve got the right people providing supportive environment you’ve got a greater chance of uncovering HIV in the community.”

Rapid testing has been used in other countries for more than five years.

Sarah Orr, QUT News.