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Join the fight to beat HIV in Coventry during National HIV testing week. Testing for HIV and encouraging your friends to test too, really does help save lives. A combination of regular testing, HIV treatment and condom use is the key to winning the fight against HIV.
To promote HIV testing week, the Integrated Sexual Health Service will be running a stand at Central Library in Coventry on Thursday 21st November from 11:30-14:30. They will be handing out information about HIV and offering members of the public a full sexual health test including HIV testing.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and disease. Those at particular high risk of HIV infection are men who have sex with men, people of Black African ethnic origin and people who share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.
Although there is no cure for HIV, treatments are now very effective, enabling people diagnosed with the virus early to live long and healthy lives. People diagnosed at a late stage are ten times more likely to die in the first year after diagnosis and spend an average of 3 to 5 years unaware that they have the virus.
The fear of receiving bad news, as well as the perceived stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, can prevent people from being tested. However, if you are HIV positive, the sooner you take that test and are diagnosed, the sooner you can receive the healthcare and support you need to live a healthy life.
National HIV Testing Week leads into World AIDS Day on the 1st December. The day is a chance to reflect on HIV at a global, national and local level and remember those who have lost their lives, but it is also an opportunity to celebrate the fact that many people are living well with HIV which was unthinkable many years ago.
Liz Gaulton, Director Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Getting tested for HIV is really important and we should encourage and support those around us to get tested.
Testing for the virus is done in complete confidentiality and the council and our partners are continuing to work together to increase the number of people being diagnosed as early as possible in Coventry to make sure they live a long and healthy life.”
Charlotte Hubbard, Head of Integrated Sexual Health services at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “HIV is a treatable long-term medical illness. Early diagnosis prevents people from developing the disease known as AIDS and also unknowingly passing the infection to others. The treatment is simple and free. We therefore urge people to come forward and get a free HIV test. If they are HIV positive, treatment can be commenced and they can live a good quality of life.”
So please join the fight to beat HIV once and for all; if you are sexually active take a quick and easy test to help reduce the number of people with undiagnosed HIV in the city who unwittingly may pass on the virus.
You can have a free fingerprick test at a number of pharmacies in the City or go to https://freetesting.hiv to see if you are eligible to have a free test sent to an address of your choice.
You can also book a confidential appointment at the Integrated Sexual Health Service for a free HIV test, call 0300 020 0027, visit the clinic on the third floor of City of Coventry Health Centre or go to the website www.ishs.org.uk.