Get tested for HIV, says local sexual health service

Virgin Care’s sexual health services are urging people to get tested for HIV at their local sexual health centre as part of plans to improve early diagnosis and treatment.

Next week is National HIV Testing Week (Saturday 17 to Friday 23 November) and services are encouraging people to get tested. The annual Testing Week raises awareness of HIV testing for everyone, and particularly for gay and bisexual men and black men and women who make up 70% of people in the UK living with HIV.

Nationally 1 in 8 people don’t know that they have HIV and early diagnosis and treatment can ensure people have a normal life expectancy – a late diagnosis leads to a tenfold increased risk of death within one year.

Across the UK, late diagnosis has been persistently high over the past five years at close to 40%.

People can visit one of Virgin Care’s Sexual Health services in Teesside, North and North East Lincolnshire and in Oldham, Bury and Rochdale to get tested or they can simply use the organisation’s sexual health hub, a portal of information and advice, to get a free HIV postal testing kit to use at home.

The online service even allows people to find their nearest clinic and book appointments at any time.

All of Virgin Care’s sexual health services are supporting HIV Prevention England’s call to give “HIV the finger” during National HIV Testing Week by offering simple finger-prick tests in the clinic or through postal testing kits. Other testing options are available to suit individual needs.

Dr Komolafe, HIV and GUM Consultant at Virgin Care’s Sexual Health Service, said: “Most people living with HIV have no symptoms, which is why testing is so important, particularly if you change partners. HIV is found in the bodily fluids of an infected person: in their semen, vaginal and anal fluids and blood.

“Though there isn’t currently a cure for HIV people living with HIV are able to live long and healthy lives when taking effective treatments. Our service is supporting HIV Prevention England’s call to give “HIV the finger” which recommends getting tested early.

“A HIV test is quick and simple but the best way to prevent infection is to always use a condom and never share needles or syringes or sex toys.”

All services also give treatment and advice on all sexual health matters, and offers pregnancy testing, all methods of contraception, emergency contraception and free condoms.

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