HIV testing kits get the green light from medics

HIV test
HIV test

WIGAN health chiefs have backed a new DIY home test for HIV which has launched across the country.

The Halve It campaign is a coalition of national experts whose aim is to cut by 50 per cent the number of people diagnosed late with the infection and living with it undiagnosed.

Early detection of HIV has clear health, social and financial benefits for individuals and for society as a whole.

And bosses at Wigan Council have recognised the importance of local action in co-ordinating and commissioning accessible and effective HIV testing to reach the undiagnosed and reduce late HIV diagnosis. STI and HIV testing and advice can be accessed at the SHINE Centre Sexual and Reproductive Health Service hubs in Wigan and Leigh and three satellite clinics across the borough and at some GP practices.

Local action to halve the number of people diagnosed late includes continued commitment to explore new approaches to testing such as point-of-care testing and online ordering of home sampling kits.

Last year 17 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in the borough, showing a 29 per cent decrease from 2010, compared to a small increase across the North West. A total of 52.9 per cent of Wigan patients were diagnosed early, compared to 40.2 per cent across Greater Manchester. There are currently 216 people with HIV in the borough and across England, the number of sufferers is rising each year, as more accessible testing results in more diagnoses.

Kevin Fenton, PHE National Director for Health and Wellbeing, said: “If you have HIV, getting early treatment and care is hugely beneficial for your long term health.

“But if you don’t know your HIV status, then you’re putting your own health at risk and also more likely to unknowingly pass the virus onto others. That is why it’s important to test earlier and more frequently. A PHE resource HIV Testing and Self-Testing offers guidance to help people decide to test for HIV in the way that suits them best. The option of HIV self-testing at home is another step forward in tackling the HIV epidemic.”