Free testing for HIV around Wakefield as HIV Week highlights need for awareness

editorial image

Around one in eight people with HIV are unaware they have it, so as HIV Testing Week looms, local and free HIV testing sessions are on offer.

Health professionals will also be working to increase awareness around risky behaviours associated with HIV.

In 2017, 43 per cent of people received a late diagnosis of the condition.

Late diagnosis can delay access to effective treatment and lead to poorer long-term outcomes - so testing early is more

important than ever.

Factors that can increase your risk of exposure to HIV include unprotected sex, casual liaisons and needle-sharing.

Mark Rowe, head of service at Spectrum’s Sexual Health Services in Wakefield said: “We encourage anyone who has been exposed to risks associated with HIV to take a test.

“Testing is quick, simple and free, and can give you peace of mind if you’re worried or unsure.

“Early diagnosis can save lives and is crucial in supporting people with HIV to access effective treatment and live well for longer.”

HIV testing will be available in six locations across Wakefield, provided by Spectrum and Yorkshire Mesmac.

A full list of testing dates can be found on the testing date calendar, and drop-in services will be available.

Anna Hartley, Director of Public Health at Wakefield Council, said: “During National HIV Week, it is extremely important that we raise awareness of this disease and make sure people are in control of their health.

“I urge anybody who has concerns about their sexual health to get tested immediately.

“This can be done at many of the clinics open throughout HIV testing week, with results provided usually within a few days. After HIV testing week has finished you can also request an HIV test at local sexual health clinics and GP surgeries.”

Coun Pat Garbutt, cabinet member for adults and health said: “We are committed to helping improve adult health and wellbeing in the district, and these clinics will make it more convenient for residents to get tested.”

Although HIV cannot be cured, people on effective treatment can live a long and healthy life without passing the virus on.

‘Effective treatment’ describes when a person has been taking medication as prescribed for at least six months.

At this stage the HIV virus in their blood has been reduced to what is called ‘undetectable levels’.

HIV Testing Week will run from November 17 to November 24 and you can follow the HIV Testing Week Campaign activity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @spectrumsharp. Further advice can be found on www.sexual-health.co.uk