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21 November 2013, 08:34
People in Hampshire are being urged to get tested for HIV, as new figures show one in five people living with the infection are unaware they have it.
It is estimated around 100,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK. Figures show nearly 700 are currently accessing care in Hampshire.
The most common way that HIV is passed on is by people having sex without a condom.
During HIV testing week (22-29 November) and over World AIDS Day 2013 (1 December), Solent NHS Trust, who provide Sexual Health Services across Hampshire, are encouraging people to get tested for HIV by visiting one of their clinics. HIV testing is offered free and confidentially to everyone. The earlier people test, the better their long term health outcomes.
The Trust’s Sexual Health Promotion Team are raising awareness of this important test. As well as revising the Hampshire HIV website, HIV LIVES, they will be advertising HIV testing services to people across Hampshire.
Andrew Smith, the Trust’s Sexual Health Promotion and HIV Lead is keen to encourage people to get tested, he said:
“In some areas of Hampshire the HIV prevalence rate is close to two people in every 1000. Many people do not realise that they have HIV or have been at risk of transmission. The earlier we can detect HIV, the earlier we can support people to access the best care possible and encourage them to get treated.
“Although HIV prevention work has most often focused on Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and Black African communities, the most common transmission route is through heterosexual sex.
"We would like to 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, people who inject drugs and people who have never tested for HIV to test. The test involves a quick and simple blood test, and in some cases we can offer an instant result.”
Dr David Rowen, Clinical Director at Solent NHS Trust’s Sexual Health Services 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.
From more information about living with HIV and HIV testing visit www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk/hivlives.