GPs in Tower Hamlets are raising awareness of the importance of getting tested for HIV and are encouraging self-testing for World AIDS Day on 1 December 2017.
Designed to unite people worldwide in the fight against HIV, the annual awareness day follows HIV Testing Week (18 to 24 November) which saw people across the country encouraged to get tested for the virus.
Recent data shows an approximate 25 per cent drop in new HIV diagnoses among residents of Tower Hamlets from 2015 to 2016.
Positive East, London’s largest HIV charity, runs a free and confidential HIV testing service at 159 Mile End Road, E1 4AQ each Saturday from 11am to 3pm and each Wednesday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. For more information, go to www.positiveeast.org.uk
Sir Sam Everington, Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group and a local GP, said: “The incidence of HIV has been falling in recent years but several thousand people are still diagnosed across the UK every year. It’s important for people to realise that HIV is treatable nowadays with drugs and the sooner it is diagnosed, the better.
“The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test. As well as helping to protect any sexual partners from potential infection, an early diagnosis can significantly improve the effectiveness of treatments available. It also greatly improves the chances of managing the infection and of living a healthy life with normal life expectancy.”
Around 13% of the estimated 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed.
People in Tower Hamlets can send off for free and easy to use HIV testing kits from the national HIV testing service www.test.hiv
The kits are delivered to people’s homes and involve sending back a blood sample via return of post. The kits are small and discreet with no identifying logos or markings.
Results are texted or emailed within one week. You can also track your sample’s progress. Anyone testing positive will be contacted directly by an HIV specialist who will advise them on the next steps to take.
More information can be found from NHS Choices, including how to find your nearest sexual health clinic, by visiting: www.nhs.uk/conditions/HIV
For more on World AIDS day and how you can show your support visit: www.worldaidsday.org/