Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is supporting National HIV Testing Week (21 to 27 November).
Figures published by Public Health England in 2015 showed that there are 103,700 people living with HIV in the UK and around a fifth of these (18,100) are unaware of their infection and at risk of passing the virus to others through unprotected sex.
National HIV Testing Week
National HIV Testing Week is a targeted, high-profile, national campaign delivered by HIV Prevention England that encourages England’s key populations most affected by HIV to consider taking a test. Those most at risk are:
- Men who have sex with men – they are advised to have an HIV and STI screen at least annually, and every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.
- Black African men and women – they are advised to have an HIV test and a regular HIV and STI (sexually transmitted infections) screen if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.
People diagnosed promptly with HIV infection can expect to live long and healthy lives. But a late diagnosis means greater costs to the health economy with increased hospital admissions and demands on social care services, and most significantly, those individuals receiving a late diagnosis are ten times more likely to die within a year of being diagnosed.
People at higher risk of HIV are being encouraged to register online for a free HIV home sampling kit. Kits can be ordered from www.freetesting.hiv.
Councillor Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “Testing for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis is absolutely vital. Early diagnosis means timely treatment, which radically improves prognosis and can mean a near-normal lifespan.
“Plus if people do not know that they have HIV, they are also risking transmitting the infection to others.”
Dr Ghanem, Genitourinary and HIV Medicine Consultant at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Evidence shows that early diagnosis of HIV and the immediate start of treatment provides the best outcome for a normal healthy life. The current HIV medications are easy to take and some are in the form of only one tablet per day.
“The local HIV service provides excellent care for people living with HIV in Northamptonshire and the majority are virally suppressed.”
In Northamptonshire, HIV testing is available at all sexual health clinics throughout National HIV Testing Week with results available within 24 hours. Further information, including opening times, is available on the Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust website.
Alternatively people can request a free sampling kit online www.freetesting.hiv.