Wiganers are being urged to get themselves checked during HIV Testing Week, which starts today.
It is thought one in eight people with the sexually-transmitted infection are not aware they have it, and 43 per cent of people found to have it in the UK last year received a late diagnosis.
This can delay access to treatment and leads to poorer outcomes.
Healthcare services in the borough have now joined forces to raise awareness for HIV Testing Week, and testing sessions are being held in eight locations.
Susan Hansford, head of service at Spectrum’s sexual health services in Wigan, said: “We encourage anyone who has been exposed to risks associated with HIV to take a HIV 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 helping people with HIV to access effective treatment and live well for longer.”
Coun Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader of Wigan Council and cabinet member for health and social care, said: “We’re pleased to be backing HIV Testing Week and we would encourage people who may be at risk to get tested, as getting the right support early means getting the right treatment which can help anyone with HIV go on to live healthily for many years without passing on the virus to others.”
Factors which can increase the risk of exposure to HIV include having unprotected sex, casual liaisons and needle-sharing.
Although HIV cannot be cured, people having effective treatment can achieve an undetectable viral load and live a long and healthy life, without passing the virus on to others
Advice about living with HIV, myths surrounding the virus, a quiz and more advice can be found online at www.sexual-health.co.uk.
A full list of testing dates and locations can be found on the website and drop-in services will also be available.