Local charity The Sussex Beacon is urging people to get tested for HIV this National HIV Testing Week (18th to the 24th November). The aim of the week is to raise awareness of HIV and promote testing to the most affected population groups in England, men who have sex with men (MSM) and black African men and women.
HIV testing is working and we’re starting to see a decrease in new HIV diagnosis rates, particularly among MSM. However, there is still work to be done. One in eight people living with HIV are unaware they have it and the majority of new infections are as a result of these individuals unknowingly passing the virus on. Late diagnoses remain high – 45% of people with HIV in the South of England are diagnosed late, when the virus is already affecting their immune system.
Simon Dowe, CEO of The Sussex Beacon said, “HIV testing is making a real impact, but we’ve still got to reach the one in eight who are slipping through the net. If you think you might have been at risk, please take the test. You’ll either get the all clear, or you’ll get the treatment and support you need to stay healthy. A finger prick test is all it takes.”
The team from The Sussex Beacon will be raising awareness and urging people to test throughout the week, both directly and via social media.
HIV testing is free and completely confidential. Testing methods vary and people may be offered a swab, a rapid finger prick test or a blood test. To find out where to take a test locally visit www.brightonsexualhealth.com or www.tht.org.uk/brightontests Alternatively, to get a sampling kit to use at home visit www.test.hiv
The Sussex Beacon provides specialist support and care for people living with HIV through both inpatient and outpatient services. It helps hundreds of people living with HIV in Sussex each year and was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission last year. For further information about The Sussex Beacon please visit www.sussexbeacon.org.uk.