GIVE HIV THE FINGER IN CROYDON AND LAMBETH

More than 100 trained volunteers will be out and about in Croydon encouraging people to take care of their health and get tested for HIV during National HIV Testing Week  which runs until  November 24th.

In Lambeth free home testing kits are being offered.

In Croydon the council will be offering residents extra opportunities to be tested at community venues across the borough, with volunteers on street signposting people to their nearest centre. Venue locations can be found at http://www.StartsWithMe.org.uk

The campaign will continue locally until World Aids Day on 1 December.

One in every eight people who are HIV positive in the UK do not know that they have the virus, which means they are not accessing the support available or the treatment to protect their health and prevent HIV being passed on to anyone else.

Getting tested for HIV is a quick and confidential finger prick test, with the result available within 15 minutes. Although the number of people testing for HIV is increasing, there are still many who receive a late diagnosis by not getting tested soon enough.

Treatment now available for HIV is very effective and not only restores people to good health but also helps reduce the onward transmission of the virus.

People can also have an HIV test throughout the year at Croydon University Hospital, at GP surgeries and other clinical settings. Postal test kits can also be ordered at any time.

Cllr Jane Avis, Croydon’s cabinet member for families, health and social care, says: “National HIV Testing Week raises awareness of the importance of HIV testing, as well as increasing the opportunities to test.

“The week also helps to reduce stigma around HIV through encouraging more conversations and routine testing. “This is an ideal opportunity for residents to make regular HIV testing part of their sexual health priorities. “The test is quick and simple, and knowing your HIV status will enable you to seek early treatment if needed.”

In Lambeth the council are offering more times and places to get tested than ever, including free home testing kits.

HIV Testing Week runs from Saturday November 17 to Saturday 24. The key message is “give HIV the finger”, showing that a finger-prick test is all it takes.

National HIV Testing Week promotes regular testing for people from communities experiencing a higher prevalence of HIV – including gay and bisexual men, black African men and women, and individuals who have a partner from a high prevalence country.

The aim is to reduce the rates of people living with undiagnosed HIV or diagnosed late. While advances in medicine mean that people on effective HIV treatment cannot pass the virus on, late diagnoses mean people who haven’t tested aren’t getting medical help.

Public Health England (PHE) figures show that HIV testing weeks are having an impact in the UK, with a 21.8 per cent drop in the number who don’t know they are living with HIV. But a small increase in late diagnoses between 2015 (39pc) and 2017 (43pc means testing is as important as ever.

Cllr Ed Davie, Lambeth’s cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “Earlier this year Sir Elton John singled out Lambeth council for praise on the work we have done to improve sexual health.

“But we are not complacent and must go further which is why we fully support HIV testing week.

“The high visibility of the campaign helps, longer-term, to reduce the stigma of living with HIV. “We know now that the virus can be contained, and we believe that testing and education are an essential part of our goal of eradicating HIV from London by 2030.”

In 2017 key public health bodies including the US Centre for Disease Control and UNAIDS officially confirmed that people with undetectable levels of HIV cannot transmit HIV. Lambeth is part of the Fast Track Cities initiative – a major push to reduce the rate of HIV infections and eliminate stigma in London – aiming for zero new HIV infections in the capital by 2030. Lambeth’s award-winning Do-It London campaign has taken a lead on “Undetectable=Untransmittable”, or “U=U” – which is also the World Aids Day message for December 1 2018.

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