Calderdale Council’s Chief Executive and Director of Public Health have taken a HIV test, to help reduce stigma and encourage others to do the same.
Robin Tuddenham (Chief Executive) and Paul Butcher (Director of Public Health) took the quick and simple finger-prick test as part of national HIV Testing Week, which starts on Saturday 17 November. The Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Marcus Thompson, is also taking a test.
Testing for HIV is free, confidential and fast, which is summed up in this year’s HIV Testing Week theme: ‘Give HIV the finger – a finger-prick test is all it takes.’ The Council is urging people who are at risk of the virus to get tested.
The Council, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and the Brunswick Centre work together to provide HIV prevention and support services in Calderdale. During HIV Testing Week, they are providing extra opportunities for people to get tested locally and are raising awareness through social media and other promotion.
Cllr Faisal Shoukat, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Inequalities, said:
“HIV is a long-term, manageable condition and we encourage anyone who thinks they are at risk to get tested, seek early treatment and help prevent the virus from spreading. There is plenty of support available to do this. Together, we can stop HIV.”
Paul Butcher, the Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Early diagnosis could help people with HIV to live long, happy and healthy lives. The only way to know for sure if you have HIV or not is to get tested. We want to dispel the myths that surround testing to reduce the number of late diagnoses. That’s why I took a test – to show that it’s quick, easy and nothing to fear.”
HIV can be transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood, semen and breast milk. There are three things that everyone can do to help eradicate HIV:
Everyone is encouraged to get tested, regardless of their sexual orientation or background. In Calderdale you can visit your local Sexual Health Clinic at Broad Street Plaza in Halifax: http://sexualhealth.cht.nhs.uk/contact-us(external link); talk to your GP; or visit the Brunswick Centre in Halifax: www.thebrunswickcentre.org.uk(external link)
The Brunswick Centre is a charity that the Council commissions to provide HIV testing, advice and condoms to prevent HIV. It is holding a number of rapid testing drop-in and outreach sessions throughout HIV Testing Week:
- Thursday 15 November, 6pm to 8pm: Todmorden Community Resource Centre, Lever Street, Todmorden.
- Monday 19 November, 6pm to 8pm: The Brunswick Centre, Hall Street, Halifax (press buzzer 8 on the main door).
- Tuesday 20 November, 12 noon to 2pm: St Augustine’s Centre, Halifax
- Saturday 24 November, 9.30am to 12.30pm: Gathering Food Bank, Halifax.
John Mckernaghan, Chief Officer at the Brunswick Centre, said:
“It is vital that people test so they can access quality treatment in a timely way to maintain their health and wellbeing. Nowadays testing couldn’t be easier. People diagnosed with HIV are less likely to transmit the infection to others.”
If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the better it is for your health. Treatment is free and can stop the virus spreading to other people. Support is available for anyone living with HIV – contact any of the local providers listed above.
Most new infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV. The best way to prevent this is to use a condom. There are other methods to prevent HIV infection such as PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatment, which can be taken in an emergency situation up to three days after exposure; and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment), which must be taken every day before possible exposure.
Visit www.startswithme.org.uk(external link) for more information and follow #HIVTestWeek on Twitter.