Residents are being encouraged to look after their health and check their HIV status during National HIV Testing Week, which starts on Saturday 21 November.
Television celebrity doctor Christian Jessen is the face of this year’s national campaign and is helping to get the word out that regular HIV testing is good not only for your own health, but also helps stop the spread of HIV in your community.
The week helps to raise awareness of the importance and advantages of HIV testing, as well as increasing opportunities for people to get tested. The ultimate goal is to normalise regular HIV testing in the most-affected groups. Public Health England research has found that there are about 25,000 people in the UK living with HIV who are unaware they have it. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help people to live a more-or-less normal lifespan.
As part of the annual drive to increase the numbers who have an HIV test in Croydon, a mobile clinic will tour the borough from 20 November to 2 December. Passers-by will be offered on-the-spot, confidential HIV tests, with results provided within 15 minutes. Residents will also be encouraged to seek testing all year round at their GP surgery and at the Genito Urinary Medicine (Gum) clinic at Croydon University Hospital.
In addition, activities in Croydon take place during World Aids Day on 1 December, a day that provides a further opportunity for worldwide unity in the fight against HIV.
“We’re playing our part in the fight to reduce the prevalence of HIV in the borough by encouraging more people to stay healthy and come forward for regular tests, during and after National HIV Testing Week.
“Our mobile testing clinic, based in Croydon’s health bus, will be parked at a number of locations, providing residents with increased and convenient opportunities to get tested while they’re out and about.
“We know that the combination of condom use, regular testing and HIV treatment contribute to stemming the spread of HIV in our communities. The week is also important because it can help people to have conversations about sexual health more broadly.”
Councillor Louisa Woodley, cabinet member for families, health and social care
Dates and locations for Croydon’s mobile HIV testing clinic can be found at www.swish.nhs.uk
Visit www.tht.org.uk/itstartswithme for more information about National HIV Testing Week.