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Thousands flocked to Melbourne’s riverside Alexandra Gardens for Sunday’s 2017 Midsumma Carnival, where staff at Burnet’s stall fielded queries about the institute’s work.
The carnival kicked off a two-week festival for Victoria’s LGBTI communities, providing a taster of events to come and an upbeat celebration of queer culture on a hot summer’s day.
Burnet staff answered questions about their research and public health work, including their long history of involvement in ground-breaking HIV research.
The PRONTO! peer-led rapid-HIV testing service, a joint initiative between Burnet and the Victorian AIDS Council, was in action at Midsumma for the third year, responding to consistent demand for walk-up services.
Ash Eswar, Lead Test Facilitator for Pronto!, said many clients had returned to be tested each year.
“At the start people were unfamiliar with the peer-led model but over three years that’s definitely changed,” he said.
“We also get a lot of clients from the country, who appreciate getting tested in a more anonymous environment.”
Results were available within twenty minutes, he said, as well as education on STIs and referrals.
Image: PRONTO!’s Lead Tester Ash Eswar: healthy demand for on-the-spot HIV testing.
While testing for STIs was not available on site at Midsumma, it is now available as part of PRONTO!’s service in Fitzroy.
“The STI testing availability means we are getting more clients overall – they can get it all done at once.”
Superhero GLOVEMAN was in action at the Burnet site again, tempting many carnival-goers in to have their photo taken with the masked star of the Burnet’s public health campaign Protect, Prevent, Test, which raises awareness around safe sex and frequent testing.