Mayor gives HIV the finger as part of National HIV Testing Week

The National campaign strives to increase the number of people of people who get tested.

The Mayor of Calderdale had a finger prick test with Calderdale support group, Sisters United as part of the Brunswick Centre’s programme for HIV Testing week.

The Mayor of Calderdale and HIV Prevention Coordinator Anne Glew.

The Mayor of Calderdale and HIV Prevention Coordinator Anne Glew.

The finger-prick test can identify if someone is HIV negative within just ten minutes.

The Mayor of Calderdale, Coun Dot Foster, said: “The test was so quick, easy and there’s absolutely nothing to fear.

"HIV doesn’t discriminate and I’d encourage anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or background, who thinks they might be at risk to take a test.

"If it’s positive you can start treatment. Life expectancy of someone on HIV treatment is no different to the general population.

Being on treatment helps prevent the virus from spreading, and if it’s negative it can end worries or doubt.”

Although the number of people being diagnosed with the virus has decreased in recent years, 43% of all diagnoses were late.

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," 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.

The free confidential testing service is available to all Calderdale residents aged 16 or over. For more information on how to get a free confidential test, visit the Brunswick centre's website.