HIV Testing Week comes to Calderdale

National HIV Testing Week hopes to encourage people to get tested and reduce the number of people diagnosed late.
National HIV Testing Week hopes to encourage people to get tested and reduce the number of people diagnosed late.

The national awareness week starts this Saturday.

The campaign hopes to raise awareness of the necessity, simplicity and ease of HIV testing, as well as offering more opportunities for people to get tested. The national campaign runs from November 16-22, ahead of World AIDS day on December 1.

The free confidential testing service is available to all Calderdale and Kirkless residents aged 16 or over. The testing process used is a finger prick test, which can provide a diagnosis within five minutes.

If the virus is caught during the early stages, those who test positive for it can go on to live healthy, normal lives. However the chance of death increases tenfold if the virus goes undetected for one year.

"HIV Testing week is important because although the number of people diagnosed with HIV is falling, there is still work to do.

"One in twelve people with HIV are unaware they have it and spend an average of three to five years not knowing, increasing the risk of passing HIV on to sexual partners. Late diagnosis rates are still too high, 43% of people were diagnosed late in 2018," said HIV Prevention Coordinator Anne Glew.

Demographics with higher late diagnosis rates are: heterosexual men (60%), black African adults (52%) and those aged 50 and older (59%).

Mrs Glew believes that misinformation about HIV, particularly how the disease can be contracted, could prevent people from getting tested.

"HIV isn’t spread through touch, kissing, tears, sweat, saliva or urine.

"Most people don’t know that people who are living with HIV and on effective treatment cannot pass on the virus to their sexual partners.

"If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan," said Mrs Glew.

In 2018, the campaign was supported by the Duke of Sussex, who shared a video encouraging people to get tested. The video achieved over 100,000 views.

For the full list of appointments, visit the Brunswick centre's website.

You can make an appointment for a test with by phoning 01422 341764. Alternatively you can go to Calderdale Integrated Sexual Health clinic for a test - see their website for details .