Wiganers urged to get tested for HIV

Wiganers are being urged to come forward and be tested for HIV.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 7:20 am
The earlier someone is diagnosed, the more likely it is that HIV treatment will be effective

Healthcare services across the borough have made their plea to mark HIV Testing Week which runs until Saturday.

According to the latest research from Public Health England, around 43% of people diagnosed with HIV in 2018 received a late diagnosis and an estimated one in eight people with HIV are unaware that they have the virus.

This year, Spectrum’s campaign is encouraging wider HIV testing and raising awareness of ways to prevent HIV, as well as sharing information about what it’s like to live with HIV and the importance of effective treatment.

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Susan Hansford, Head of Service at Spectrum’s Sexual Health Services in the borough said: “HIV testing is quick, simple, confidential and free. Whether you’re worried you could be at risk or are simply testing for peace of mind, knowing your HIV status gives you the best opportunity to protect your long-term health.

“The earlier someone is diagnosed, the more likely it is that HIV treatment will be effective.’

With effective treatment, people with HIV now have a normal life expectancy. However, late diagnosis can delay access to effective HIV treatment and lead to poorer health outcomes - which means that testing early is more important than ever.

Amongst people living with HIV, late diagnosis is more common amongst heterosexual men (60%), adults of African descent (52%), and people aged 50 or older (59%).

Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health at Wigan Council, said: “We’re proud to be supporting this campaign to raise awareness that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives but it’s really important to get tested and diagnosed early.

“There is plenty of support and advice available across the borough and we’re urging people to access it.”

HIV testing will be available in several locations across Wigan this week. The LGBT Foundation will be providing testing in locations across Greater Manchester whilst Spectrum will also testing through our clinics and drop-in services will also be available.

If you can’t make it to a clinic or would prefer to test at home, you can also order a free postal testing kit online.

For people living with HIV, effective treatment reduces the level of virus in the blood to undetectable levels; also known as an ‘undetectable viral load’.

People with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to their partners – a key fact which can help to challenge misconceptions about HIV.

Remember – undetectable means untransmittable.

To find out more or try their HIV quiz, visit www.sexual-health.co.uk or follow them on social media @SpectrumSHARP.