Rochdale borough residents are being encouraged to find out their HIV status by 'giving HIV the finger' during National HIV Testing Week, Saturday, 18 - Saturday, 25 November 2017.
Rochdale Borough Council is backing the week of action which aims to encourage people to test for HIV and reduce the number of late diagnosis, particularly those most at risk of HIV including men who have sex with men, and black African men and women.
With many different ways to get tested, testing for HIV is easier and quicker than ever. Free and confidential testing is carried out by a simple finger-prick blood test, at local clinics, GPs or community test centres, where results can be available in as little as 20 minutes. Those who would like to do the test in the privacy of their own home can do so by ordering a FREE postal kit.
The Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) partnership, a collaboration between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Foundation (LGBTF), Black Health Agency (BHA) for Equality and George House Trust, are delivering finger-prick testing across Greater Manchester during the testing week.
'Be sure of your HIV status, the earlier, the better'
According to HIV Prevention England 1 in 8 people don't know that they have HIV and could spend an average of 3 to 5 years not knowing they have the virus.
Diagnosing HIV early means patients can receive effective treatment which will prevent them from getting seriously ill or unknowingly passing the virus on to anyone else. It also means they can expect to live a normal life span.
The council's director of public health and wellbeing, Andrea Fallon and cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Councillor Jacqueline Beswick have joined famous faces such as Rihanna and Prince Harry in taking the finger-prick HIV test and supporting the week of action.
'Testing for HIV is quick and easy'
Andrea Fallon, said: "Taking a HIV test is the only way you can be sure of your HIV status and the earlier this is done the better, so you can start effective treatment and lead a normal live without fear of passing it on to loved ones. In support of National HIV Testing Week 2017, Public Health England (PHE) have expanded availability of FREE HIV postal test kits. The tests will be available to order from now until Thursday, 4 January 2018 and done in the privacy of your own home. I urge people not to put it off because finding out early means it can be treated with medication much like other long-term conditions, so give HIV the finger."
Councillor Jacqueline Beswick, said: "Unfortunately there is still a stigma around HIV but there really shouldn't be, it isn't the death sentence it once was if it's caught early and treated effectively. Testing is quick and easy, I've done it and I advise that people get tested at least once a year, to look after themselves and help us get one step closer to wiping out all new HIV infections."Further information and support, locations of test clinics and postal tests are available at It Starts With Me - National HIV Testing Week.