National HIV Testing Week launches in England

Torbay Council’s Public Health Team is supporting National HIV Testing Week which kicked off on Saturday 18 November with the aim to raising awareness of HIV testing.

Cllr Jackie Stockman, Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing said: “National HIV Testing Week runs from 18 to 24 November and is run by HIV Prevention England.

“The week encourages people to take a painless, simple and quick test, particularly those most at-risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men and people from sub Saharan Africa and their partners.

“Its aim is to increase access to HIV testing in community and healthcare settings in order to improve early diagnosis and treatment of HIV, therefore reducing onward transmission. We know that 95% of people accept an HIV test when offered one by a healthcare professional.”

In 2017, there were an estimated 101,200 people in the UK living with HIV; of these it is estimated that 13% do not know they have the condition. Having HIV, but not having the treatment, increases a person’s health risks greatly.

Andrew Evans, Director of Operations & Finance at The Eddystone Trust, the local HIV and sexual health charity said: “We are aiming to reach our target of testing 200 people across the South West over the next few weeks and we encourage anyone in Torbay who might be at risk to come and get a free confidential test, and get your result in less than 20 minutes.

“Today, if you test positive, effective treatment means you can have a near-normal life expectancy, and when the amount of the virus in your blood is reduced to undetectable levels, this means you cannot pass on HIV. Testing puts you in control and is nothing to be feared.”

The Eddystone Trust is running a campaign for pledging to wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day, 1 December, with the aim to challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.

To promote the campaign on twitter #YourRibbonReasons is being used. You can pledge at http://www.redribbonpledge.co.uk  giving your reason for wearing a Red Ribbon.

For more information about National HIV Testing Week, go to: https://www.eddystone.org.uk/news/nhtw2017 

for local events in the South West or the national website https://www.startswithme.org.uk/