18 November 2016
Health leaders in Sheffield are encouraging people to get tested for HIV during National HIV Testing Week which starts on Saturday, 19 November.
This year’s campaign ‘It starts with me’ focuses on reducing late diagnosis. Research shows that one in four people living with HIV don’t know they have it and that people who are treated early are better able to manage the condition with the same life expectancy as people without HIV, as long as they stay healthy.
In Sheffield there are lots of ways for people to be tested. They can go to a sexual health clinic, have someone come to their house, go to their GP or order a postal testing kit.
Testing drop-in sessions will be running across the city throughout HIV testing week with services provided by Sexual Health Sheffield and PlusMe.
Dr Claire Dewsnap, Clinical Lead at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Sexual Health Sheffield, said: “HIV can be managed with a normal life expectancy for many. Those identified can access 21st century treatments reducing transmission to partners and preventing ill health for themselves. Testing is the first step to excluding infection or identifying a treatment strategy for individuals.”
Karl Cooper, Project Manager at PlusMe, a charity that supports local people living with or affected by HIV, said: “Treatment for HIV has come on leaps and bounds and it’s no longer the death sentence it used to be.
“But there is still a stigma around it and people think having HIV means they’re going to die or that they can’t have a proper relationship, sex or children. That’s just not true and, with the proper support, there’s no reason why people can’t live long and fruitful lives.
“We want more people to be tested. I know it can be scary and people can feel embarrassed talking about their sexual health. But it’s really important and we can help them through it.”
Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said: “There are lots of different ways people can be tested for HIV in Sheffield, including in the privacy of their own home.
“We want to help people lead longer, happier and healthier lives. That’s why we invest in sexual health and HIV testing services and are encouraging people to get tested.”
For information about free testing postal kits visit www.startswithme.org.uk.