As part of HIV Testing Week, The Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Dot Foster has taken the simple finger-prick test to help reduce stigma and encourage others to do the same.
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.’
While new HIV diagnoses have fallen for a third consecutive year, the latest data from Public Health England reports 43% of all diagnoses were late. Calderdale Council is urging people to know their status as HIV could affect anyone.
There are more ways than ever to take a test, including at the local sexual health services at Broad Street Plaza in Halifax (https://sexualhealth.cht.nhs.uk/think-sexual-health(external link) ); at GP surgeries; using online home testing at www.freetesting.hiv(external link); or through the Council’s commissioned service, the Brunswick Centre (https://www.thebrunswickcentre.org.uk/hiv-testing(external link)).
The Brunswick Centre provides prevention and support services for people living with HIV in Calderdale. They also hold regular testing sessions, and 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.
The Mayor attended a session with Calderdale support group, Sisters United as part of the Brunswick Centre’s programme of testing. The test is just a finger-prick test and it takes just 10 minutes for the result to come back.
The Mayor of Calderdale, Cllr Dot Foster, said of her experience:
“The test was so quick, easy and there’s absolutely nothing to fear. HIV doesn’t discriminate and I’d encourage anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or background, who thinks they might be at risk to take a test. If it’s positive you can start treatment. Life expectancy of someone on HIV treatment is no different to the general population. Being on treatment helps prevent the virus from spreading, and if it’s negative it can end worries or doubt.”
People can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms, testing is the only way for people to find out their HIV status. Anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support.
For more information about testing and for details of upcoming drop-in and outreach sessions held by the Brunswick Centre, visit https://www.thebrunswickcentre.org.uk/hiv-testing(external link)
Further details about HIV Testing Week are also available at www.startswithme.org.uk(external link) or follow #HIVTestWeek on Twitter