June 18, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

HIV Testing Week: Cornwall aims for zero new HIV cases by 2030

National HIV Testing Week launches next week aimed at promoting regular HIV testing for anyone who is sexually active.

The goal is to have no new HIV cases in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2030.

Tests are free, quick and confidential and will help to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV.

HIV Testing Week 2024

People with HIV who know their status at an early stage can quickly begin treatment to prevent serious illness, enabling them to live a healthy life and prevent them from passing the virus onto others.

People in Cornwall can order testing kits online or visit one of the drop-in testing sessions being held by Eddystone Trust:

  • Monday, February 5, Bodmin Family Hub, Chestnuts Centre, 83 Fore St, Bodmin PL31 2JB at 5pm – 7pm
  • Thursday, February 8, Intercom Trust, 6a Higher Newnham Lane, Truro, at 5pm – 7pm

You can also get tested at your local GP surgery.

Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Public Health at Cornwall Council, said:

“Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have fewer people living with HIV than other areas of England, but every year people are diagnosed with HIV locally.

“You might have HIV for a long time without any symptoms and testing is the only way to know your HIV status. If you are HIV positive, you can have treatment and live a long and healthy life and with effective HIV treatment you also avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. Anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support.”

Kay Rundle, Senior Service Manager at sexual health charity Brook, said:

“Just like other STIs, anyone can get HIV. Knowing your status is the first step to starting treatment, and the only way to know your status is to take a test. Anyone can get tested at Brook Cornwall and tests are free, quick and easy. If you’re over 16 you can order a free HIV test to complete at home.

“Using condoms, lubricant and PrEP are simple and effective ways to prevent HIV infection, and if you have been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours you can access PEP to prevent infection. All HIV prevention and testing services are available from Brook Cornwall, just visit www.sexualhealthcornwall.co.uk

James Mead, Development Lead for Prevention at sexual health charity The Eddystone Trust, said:

“We all have an HIV status, whether it is positive or negative. HIV can affect anyone – regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender or heritage. In the UK, one in 16 people living with HIV don’t know that they have the virus. This is why we want to promote the message that testing for HIV can be done in a variety of ways and settings. Tests take 20 minutes to provide a result and can be done where you feel most comfortable.”

He added: “Living with HIV in 2024 is very different to what it once was. Once diagnosed, medication can be prescribed that controls the virus, enabling you to live a long and healthy life and prevents you passing the virus on. As we work towards the target of No New HIV Diagnoses by 2030, we want to ensure that we are encouraging as many people as possible to test. Regular testing helps to reduce numbers of undiagnosed people and prevent people being diagnosed late. Normalising testing, starting conversations around HIV, and raising awareness can help to remove barriers people may have whilst reducing stigma against those living with the virus.”

Drop-in testing sessions offer finger-prick tests which provides a result in around 20 minutes. They can also offer help and support around HIV Prevention and wider issues of sexual health.

Alternatively, free HIV self-test kits can be delivered straight to your door, equipped with detail instructions on how to use.

People who get tested and learn they don’t have HIV can make decisions about sex, drug use and health care that can help prevent HIV. Taking medicine called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is highly effective for preventing HIV.

For more information visit the Eddystone Trust website , Brook website and the national ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign website.

Press release issued on February 1, 2024.

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