A forum in Wollongong on Wednesday aims to garner community support to stop HIV in its tracks.
A group of leading HIV professionals will address the evening forum at City Diggers as part of a touring campaign by ACON, NSW's leading HIV and gay health organisation.
ACON Southern NSW manager Dermot Ryan said the Ending HIV campaign aimed to help residents throughout NSW understand how a new strategy could help end the HIV epidemic.
"Advances in testing technologies and treatments are giving us the potential to end the HIV epidemic in NSW," he said.
"The campaign focuses on three key messages - test more, treat early and stay safe. These messages are not completely new, but the way in which we're providing people with information is.
"We are touring rural and regional areas as well as metropolitan areas because HIV doesn't discriminate - it doesn't just target gay men in Sydney, there's HIV notifications all over NSW."
Sexually active gay men do remain the group most affected by HIV, so as part of the campaign they are being encouraged to get tested for HIV at least twice a year.
Mr Ryan said rapid testing technology made this easier, and quicker, than ever before.
"Previously people would have to get blood tests and then wait two weeks for their results - now they just need to have a finger prick test or mouth swab and can get their results in half an hour," he said.
"It's more important than ever before for people to know their HIV status because the treatments have so radically improved in recent years, and are so much easier to tolerate.
"In the past people thought they could put treatment off to when they got sick but it's better to start earlier to reduce the virus in the body, which will in turn reduce the likelihood of transmitting it."
The safe sex message has not changed, and the campaign urges everyone to continue to use condoms and other risk reduction strategies.
Mr Ryan said the community forum was targeted at gay men and their families and supporters, as well as anyone else affected by HIV.
"In the Illawarra we have an active and engaged population of gay men who wish to stay informed about issues affecting their community," Mr Ryan says.
"This forum allows them to have an in-depth but casual conversation with HIV experts in their field to get a range of information, including the testing and treatment options available in the region."
ACON HIV and Sexual Health associate director Lance Schema and Illawarra HIV clinical specialist Dr Katherine Brown will be among the panel of experts at the forum from 6.30-8.30pm.
To attend contact email@example.com or phone 1800 063 060.