National HIV Testing Week starts on Monday 7 February 2022. Every year this annual campaign, run by HIV Prevention England, aims to raise awareness about the importance of regular testing, to help reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and those diagnosed late. The number of people diagnosed with HIV is falling, but there is still work to do.
Testing for HIV is quick and easy – all it takes is a finger-prick test. Testing is really important because people can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms, testing is the only way to know your HIV status. If you have HIV, finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else.
Consultant and Clinical Director Sexual Health and HIV at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Ayo-ola Okunwobi-Smith: “Anyone diagnosed with HIV can access free treatment and support. Our Sexual Health Service at Hope House in Gloucester offers HIV testing and has a team of specialists to help people live well with HIV. You can test at home using HIV postal and self-test kits. We would encourage you to visit our dedicated website: www.hopehouse.nhs.uk/hiv for more information on how you can get tested.”
In this clip, Michelle from our Testing Team advises on how to get a testing kit in Gloucestershire:
Test, Treat, Protect…
Test: It’s a good idea to test at least once a year or following the end of a relationship. Test negative and end worries and doubt. Test positive and you can enjoy a long, healthy life – by testing early and starting treatment in time.
Treat: The sooner someone with HIV starts treatment, the better it is for their health. Treatment can also reduce the amount of HIV in the body to levels at which HIV cannot be passed on.
Protect: Most new infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV – so aren’t on medication and aren’t undetectable. So we all need to look after ourselves.
Find out more about how you can stop HIV here.