The NHS, sexual health charities and Leeds City Council are gearing up for National HIV Testing week starting on 19th November.
Now in its fifth year, the week increases opportunities across the city for people to get tested for HIV and learn more about the condition. A range of extra HIV testing sessions will be available across the city during Testing Week and a calendar of sessions can be seen on www.leedssexualhealth.com
Although the campaign has positive effects on the broader community there is a particular focus on two groups that continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV in England: men who have sex with men (MSM) and black African people. In Leeds the campaign is being run and supported by a partnership between Leeds City Council, Yorkshire Mesmac, BHA Leeds Skyline and Leeds Sexual Health.
The week is followed by World AIDS Day on Thursday 1 December.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, chair of the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“National HIV Testing Week is a great chance for more people to increase their knowledge of HIV and if appropriate have a simple, fast HIV test. Being aware of your HIV status is really important and an earlier diagnosis can mean a healthier and longer life. I am delighted so many key buildings are being lit red to highlight our support as a city for World Aids Day 2016.”
Dr Sarah Schoeman, Consultant in Sexual Health & HIV at Leeds Sexual Health said:
“We all have an HIV status, whether it’s positive or negative and the sooner you know it the better. 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’s never been so effective and the sooner you know, the more choices you have. An early diagnosis and treatment means you can stay healthy, have a normal life span and protect your partners.”
Jeni Hirst, Director of Service Development & Delivery at BHA Leeds Skyline said:
“National HIV Testing Week provides us with an ideal opportunity to test for HIV. HIV testing is quicker and more accessible than ever before. Knowing your HIV status enables you to take control of your sexual health, means you can access the right treatment and support and protect the health of yourself, your partners and our communities."
Tom Doyle, Chief Executive – Yorkshire MESMAC Group of Services said:
“With HIV home sampling being available this year to MSM and black African communities the opportunities and accessibility to test for HIV are even 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 “
Public Health England has also launched the National HIV Home Sampling Service linked to Testing Week this year which will run between 7th November 2016 and 7th January 2017. Tests can be ordered online at www.test.hiv, completed at home and sent back through the post. The ultimate goal is to increase regular HIV testing in the most at risk groups.
World AIDS Day follows Testing Week on 1st December, and this year sees Leeds City Council supporting the day by lighting up a range of landmarks such as the Civic Hall, the Town Hall and the Inner Ring Road Tunnel. Other buildings such as the First Direct Arena, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds University and the Merrion Centre are also going red to show their support in reducing stigma about HIV and AIDS. BHA Leeds Skyline will be hosting a World Aids Day Event on Sunday 27th November 2-3pm at Mill Hill Chapel, City Square with a charity event being held afterwards from 4pm onwards at the Viaduct Showbar.
Notes for editors
1. For more information relating to Leeds City Council, Public Health please contact Phil Morcom, Communications Team on 0113 3950244
2. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
3. For more information relating to HIV and black African communities please contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or email@example.com
4. For more information relating to the Leeds Sexual Health Service contact Luke Farley within the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust on 07990 798451 or firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Information on testing sessions in Leeds is available at www leedssexualhealth.com/latest-news/hivtestingweek2016
6. More information about National HIV testing week is www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk
7. Information about World AIDS day is at: www.worldaidsday.org
8. HIV Home Sampling Kits can be ordered from www.test.hiv