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HIV LIVES: Get tested for HIV

Thursday, 21 November 2013

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people living with HIV do not know that they have the infection, and therefore are at an increased risk of passing the virus onto others. The aim of HIV Testing Week (22 - 29 November) is to promote the benefits of being tested, to encourage those most at risk to come forward and to increase the number of early HIV diagnoses. The most common way that HIV is passed on is by people having sex without a condom.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, at Hampshire County Council is backing this year's campaign to raise awareness of the importance of taking an HIV test: "I would encourage people to get tested by visiting one of Hampshire's sexual health clinics run by Solent Health NHS Trust, where free and confidential HIV tests are offered. Early diagnosis of HIV, timely treatment and support can mean better long term health outcomes for those with the condition."

Solent Health NHS Trust, commissioned by Hampshire County Council to provide sexual health services across Hampshire, are raising awareness of this important test using real life stories. By using the stories of Hampshire residents who are living with HIV, it is hoped this will reduce people's very real worries about being tested. To read these stories visit the HIV LIVES pages of their website, where details of the HIV testing services available to people across Hampshire can also be found.

Tweeters will be introduced to the stories of local people living with HIV throughout the week through the team's Twitter feed @SolentSHP and by following @solentnhstrust. The team have also developed a new educational pack for use with young people, which explores transmission, treatment, testing and myths and stigma of HIV.

Andrew Smith, the Trust's Sexual Health Promotion and HIV Lead, said: "Many people do not realise that they have HIV or have been at risk of transmission. The most common transmission route is through unprotected sex. We encourage everyone who has had unprotected sex to get tested, especially people from African communities, men who have sex with men, people who have multiple sex partners and people who inject drugs. If you are in one of these higher risk groups and have never had an HIV test, we would encourage you to get tested. The test involves a quick and simple blood test; in some cases we can offer an instant result."

David Rowen, Clinical Director at Solent NHS Trust's Sexual Health Service, said: "Many people do not realise that the value of being diagnosed early is that your life expectancy will be close to that of a person the same age who is HIV negative. Treatments are very effective."

People can get tested by visiting their local sexual health clinic. Solent NHS Trust run clinics across Hampshire at a number of locations, on different days of the week and at different times.

Case studies on the HIV Lives website can be used and attributed to Solent NHS Trust.

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