Everyone has an HIV status, do you know yours?

In the run up to World AIDS Day on 1st December, the third national HIV testing week runs from 22nd – 30th November, with fast, free, confidential testing sessions taking place across the city in wide range of places, using finger prick testing which gives results while you wait.

A host of additional community based clinics will be running during the week aimed at target communities making it easier than ever to take a HIV test.

Local community based agencies Yorkshire MESMAC and BHA Leeds Skyline will be working with The Leeds Centre for Sexual Health, The Contraception & Sexual Health Service and Leeds City Council’s Office of the Director of Public Health to run fast, free, confidential rapid HIV testing drop-in sessions across Leeds which will include testing sessions in Leeds Kirkgate Market, (outside the Ministry of Food Stall), pubs, clubs and venues within the Leeds Gay Village, as well as testing within local pharmacies.

Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC Group of Services, said:

“It’s never been easier or quicker to take a HIV test and treatments have never been better. We are asking every gay and bisexual man who may have put themselves at risk to take a simple HIV test - it’s the best way to protect your health, your partner’s health and to improve the sexual health of our community.”

Abigail Smith Service Development & Delivery Manager at BHA Leeds Skyline, said:

“HIV is often passed on by people who don't know they have the virus. As a test is the only way to find out, we are pleased to be able to offer extra opportunities for people in Leeds to test so that anyone who might be unaware they have HIV can be diagnosed and supported to access treatment to keep them in good health as soon as they need.”

Dr Sarah Schoeman, Co-Lead Clinician at Leeds Centre for Sexual Health, said:

“The sooner you know your HIV status the better it is for your health. If you don’t have HIV, you can stop worrying and we can help you develop strategies for the future to help you manage your risks. If you have HIV, treatment has never been so effective and the sooner you know, the more choices you have.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“The Health and Wellbeing Board welcomes and fully supports the excellent partnership work that is being done across the city for National HIV Testing Week. The Health and Wellbeing Board wants to see a healthier city, and ensuring that people have quick and easy access to HIV testing and support plays an important role in this important agenda.”

Hannah Sowerbutts, Health Improvement Specialist from the Leeds City Council Public Health Directorate, said:

"1 in 500 people in Leeds have HIV, 25% of them are unaware that they have the infection, we as a city are determined to reduce this figure."

For more information about where to test during National HIV Testing week go to the clinic finder on www.leedssexualhealth.com/hiv-testing


Notes to Editor.

1. For more information relating to HIV and Gay & Bisexual Men please contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC and HIV Prevention England Co-ordinator for North and Central England on 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or t.doyle@mesmac.co.uk

2. For more information relating to HIV and Black African Communities please contact Jeni Hirst Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or jeni@thebha.org.uk

3. For more information relating to Leeds City Council, Public Health Directorate, please contact Phil Morcom, Marketing and Communication Team on 07891 276270

4. For more information relating to the Leeds Centre for Sexual Health please contact Andrew Bannister, Head of Media Relations, on 0113 2066244 or email andrew.bannister1@nhs.net