20 Nov 2015

National HIV testing week gets backing from Leeds


In the run up to World AIDS Day on 1st December, Leeds new integrated sexual health services are joining with other organisations in the city to back the fifth national HIV testing week, which runs from 21nd – 28th November.

Local community based agencies Yorkshire MESMAC and BHA Leeds Skyline are working with the new Leeds Sexual Health Service and Leeds City Council’s Public Health team to run additional fast, free, confidential rapid HIV testing drop-in sessions across Leeds. They will include finger-prick testing which gives results while you wait at testing sessions across the city, including in Leeds Kirkgate market (outside the Ministry of Food), community shops, barbers and pharmacies as well as pubs, clubs and venues within the Leeds’ gay village.

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

“Leeds has got a great record for promoting ways to keep people healthy and I hope HIV Testing Week will see more people benefit from the public health work being delivered across the city to get earlier diagnosis, support and treatment where needed.”

Tom Doyle, Chief Executive – 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”

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 quick and easy and with so many opportunities to test during the week, it enables us to take control of our sexual health. Knowing your status means you can access the right treatment and support and protect the health of yourself, your partners and our communities."

Dr Sarah Schoeman, Consultant in Sexual Health & HIV at Leeds Sexual Health said:

“Everyone has an HIV status. 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’s never been so effective and the sooner you are diagnosed the better your chances of staying healthy and living a normal life span.”

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

Notes to Editor.

HIV testing week also marks the launch of a new HIV screening pilot in 38 GP practices across the city where there is higher HIV prevalence. The year-long pilot funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) and overseen by Public Health England will offer all new patients aged between 16-65 the opportunity to be screened for HIV as well as Hepatitis B and C.

Leeds beat four other cities to be awarded the EJAF funding aimed at helping people to get early identification and support, as well as preventing further spread of HIV by offering testing for around 16,000 people when they register at GP practices.

Contact details:

1. For more information relating to Leeds City Council, Public Health Directorate please contact Phil Morcom, Marketing and Communication Team on 07891 276270 philip.morcom@leeds.gov.uk

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 t.doyle@mesmac.co.uk

3. 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

For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team