Christ Church in Armley is one of the locations hosting a community-based HIV testing session as part of National HIV Testing week, writes Keely Bannister.
Being held on Monday 18th November from 3pm until 6pm, the Christ Church session will be run by BHA Leeds Skyline – a sexual health charity offering HIV support services for anyone living with or affected by HIV, and HIV testing for Black African communities.
Targeted at people of colour but open to anyone who needs a test, the testing process is very simple: a small prick of the finger – hence the awareness week’s key message of ‘Give HIV the finger: a finger-prick test is all it takes’ – resulting in a small amount of blood being placed on a testing strip and then a result in 20 minutes. Other tests such as for gonorrhea and chlamydia will also be available.
Some personal details will be requested from attendees, but these are never used to identify a person and discretion is always used by the experienced staff.
Other sessions will be available throughout the week in different parts of the city, all of which can be viewed here.
Now in its eighth year, National HIV testing week aims to reduce the numbers of undiagnosed people and those who are diagnosed late.
Despite great advances in prevention, testing and treatment contributing to a national reduction in the number of people diagnosed with HIV, there are still around 1 in 12 people who are unaware they have HIV and spend an average of three to five years not knowing, increasing the risk of passing HIV on to sexual partners.
Late diagnosis rates are still too high – nationally 43% of people were diagnosed late in 2018. This correlates to poorer long-term health outcomes and leads to a tenfold increase of death within one year.
Former Armley councillor Alison Lowe will have her HIV test live streamed on Wednesday 20th November to help highlight the process and encourage others to take the test.
For more information relating to HIV and black African communities please contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information relating to HIV and Gay & Bisexual Men please contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC on 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or email@example.com.
HIV Home Sampling Kits can be ordered from www.freetesting.hiv.