Free HIV testing in St Leonards

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Free HIV testing will be available in St Leonards as part of National HIV Testings Week (NHTW) tomorrow (Wednesday, November 25).

The Terrence Higgins Trust will be working in partnership with Hastings Station Plaza sexual health clinic and The Links Project to offer testing on from 12.30pm to 4pm at Concordia Hall, Church Road.

NHTW started on Saturday (November 21) and encourages people across the country to take an HIV test.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign promotes HIV testing to gay or bisexual men and black African men and women.

These groups make up seven out of ten people in the UK living with HIV.

Testing is free and confidential, and involves a finger-prick blood test, with results available within 15 minutes.

Those taking a test will be given information and support before and after the test, and anyone who tests positive will be referred quickly to a specialist clinic.

Centre manager Daniel Murray said: “National HIV Testing Week gives us a great opportunity to draw attention to how quick and easy modern tests are.

“There are far more reasons to know your HIV status than there are not to, so if it’s been a while since your last test, please contact the team, or visit your nearest testing service.

“HIV testing is fast, easy and confidential. There are now a range of testing options available from postal tests, to GUM clinics, community sites and home testing.

“If you test positive, early detection, monitoring and effective treatment means that your life largely carries on as before.

“Late diagnosis can cause serious health problems and early death.”

More than 6,000 people were newly diagnosed in the UK in 2014.

This figure was 6,032 in 2013, 6,353 in 2010 and 7,893 in 2005; 75 per cent of new diagnoses were in men.

National HIV Testing Week is co-ordinated by HIV Prevention England, funded by Public Health England, with support, partnership and participation from organisations in the public, statutory and private sectors.

The programme promotes the benefits of regular testing and treatment for both the individual and community.

NHTW ambassador Dr Christian Jessen said: “I am proud to be the National HIV Testing Week Ambassador. Testing for HIV is crucial for prevention.

“The fact that diagnoses have increased is encouraging in one sense.

“If you get tested and receive a positive diagnosis, you can now immediately go onto treatment, and if you are taking medication correctly you are classed as ‘undetectable’ and the virus cannot be passed on.

“Most concerning to me is the fact that one in five people with HIV nationally, do not realise they have it, so they are putting their own health at risk and HIV could unknowingly be passed on.”

Station Plaza sexual health clinic also offers a fully integrated sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing and contraceptive service.

It is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 7.15pm, on a drop in basis and booked appointments are also available for specialist services.

There are outreach clinics in some outlying towns.

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