Give HIV the finger for National HIV Testing Week 2017
The sexual health teams at The Centre in Exeter and Barnstaple, part of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, are taking part in National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 18-25 November 2017.
The theme for this year’s National HIV Testing Week is ‘Give HIV the finger’, which promotes the quick and easy finger-prick HIV test. From 20–24 November, The Centre’s sexual health clinics in Exeter and Barnstaple are offering a free, confidential, no-questions-asked finger-prick HIV test.
Abbey Eboigbe, nurse adviser for The Centre in Exeter, said: “National HIV Testing Week gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of testing for HIV, and how quick and easy it can be.
“To do a finger-prick test, all you need to do is come along to our clinics on Sidwell Street, Exeter, and in Barnstaple, fill out a self-assessment form and one of the clinic staff will see you to do your test. Your results will be available in one minute.”
National HIV Testing Week is a national campaign that raises awareness of the importance of regular HIV testing, as well as increasing opportunities to get tested. HIV tests can be carried out in clinical settings like The Centre’s sexual health clinics and via GPs, or via postal testing, which people can do at home.
The campaign encourages England’s key populations most affected by HIV to consider taking an HIV test. These people include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and black African men and women, and their sexual partners. Anyone who is sexually active is also encouraged to get tested to help reduce the number of people who are diagnosed late with HIV.
Late diagnosis rates remain higher in heterosexual men and women, as MSM tend to test more frequently. Whilst early diagnosis can result in a normal life expectancy, late diagnosis leads to a ten-fold increase of death within one year.
There are approximately 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV, and of these people, 1 in 8 do not know that they have HIV. Those who are undiagnosed spend on average three to five years unaware that they have the virus.
Staff from The Centre in Exeter have teamed up with The Eddystone Trust and will be manning a stall outside the Sidwell Street walk-in centre throughout the week. Staff will be promoting HIV testing and providing information about current treatments.
Abbey said: “With current treatments, HIV is now considered a long-term manageable condition, much like diabetes. By getting tested and starting treatment if necessary, you are unlikely to become ill due to this infection and if the virus is undetectable for at least six months, you will no longer be able to pass it on to a sexual partner.
“We are a warm, open, friendly team of nurses and doctors, and we would encourage anybody who would like a HIV test, or any further information or advice, to drop in to any of our clinics to speak to one of the team.”
The sexual health clinic on Sidwell Street, Exeter, is open Monday to Saturday, with daily appointments and walk-in sessions available. The Barnstaple clinic is open Monday to Friday, with late appointments on Wednesday evenings.