Sexual health is in focus for HIV Testing Week 2017
National HIV Testing Week kicks off across Buckinghamshire on 18 November with a focus on getting local people to test and learn more about HIV.
As part of bSHaW, which provides sexual health and wellbeing services across Buckinghamshire, the team at Terrence Higgins Trust - the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity - will be offering free, fast and confidential testing throughout the week.
Staff and volunteers from the charity will be at Bucks New University on Tuesday 21 November, and the University of Buckingham on Wednesday 22 November offering students HIV testing on campus.
Young people aged between 15 and 24 years will also be encouraged to have a free chlamydia test at both events to help combat what is the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted infection. FREE chlamydia postal kits are also available online by visiting www.sexualhealthbucks.nhs.uk and clicking on 'I need a postal chlamydia kit'.
Latest figures shows that 43% of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Buckinghamshire in 2016 were diagnosed late, meaning the virus has already started to damage the immune system.
Testing for HIV puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will stop you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan, and prevent you from passing the virus on to anyone else.
National HIV Testing Week is run by Terrence Higgins Trust locally on behalf of Bucks County Council and National HIV Prevention England.
Nigel French, HIV and Sexual Health Practitioner at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "We’re really excited about National HIV Testing Week, and encourage anyone who might be at risk to come get a free, confidential test, and get your result in less than 15 minutes.
"Today, if you test positive, effective treatment means you can live as long as anyone else, 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."
Noel Brown, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement & Public Health said: "Although there have been great advances in the treatments available to help people who are living with HIV, early diagnosis is absolutely critical. No one is going to judge or cause embarrassment, and testing is quick and confidential - so I'd like to encourage anyone who may have been at risk to use the opportunity of this HIV Testing Week to get tested."
To support the National HIV Testing Week, Public Health England (PHE) will fund all requests for HIV self-sampling kits made to the national service from 6 November 2017 until 8 January 2017. Visit www.freetesting.hiv
Local people across Buckinghamshire can also take a free and confidential HIV test at any local bSHaW sexual health clinic. To find your nearest clinic, go to the service finder on: www.sexualhealthbucks.nhs.uk
For more information about National HIV Testing Week, go to: www.startswithme.org.uk/