20 Nov 2016

Public Health

Bristol Councillors take public HIV test for National HIV Testing Week

Bristol Councillors have taken a public HIV test in an effort to encourage more local people to test for the virus during National HIV Testing Week (19 - 25 November).
 
Councillors Fi Hance, Anna Keen and Kye Dudd visited Terrence Higgins Trust’s centre in Bristol on Friday to have a simple finger-prick blood test.
 
The negative result of all Councillors was delivered just 15 minutes after their test.
 
During the visit, the Councillors met volunteers and staff from the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity and discussed the importance of normalising testing and busting stigma.
 
“As I found out by taking a test at Terrence Higgins Trust – HIV testing is free, fast and simple, and it’s one of the best weapons we have to stop HIV transmission. Early testing and diagnosis are key to combating this epidemic and we need to remove the stigma around HIV testing.”
Councillor Fi Hance, Cabinet Member for City Health and Wellbeing
 
Terrence Higgins Trust in Bristol are providing testing in different venues across the city including bars and clubs, as well as extra testing at their office on Friday by appointment. Posters encouraging people to test are displayed across Bristol.
 
“I was delighted to visit Terrence Higgins Trust in Bristol to see just how quote and easy taking a HIV test is. It’s really important to raise awareness of HIV and good sexual health, so its great to be a part of National HIV Testing Week locally.”
Councillor Kye Dudd
 
“It was great to find out on my visit to Terrence Higgins Trust, that there are now a range of testing options available, from postal tests, to GUM clinics, community sites and home testing. My test was quick, simple, free and painless. National HIV Testing Week is a great way to raise awareness of HIV and encourage local people here in Bristol to test.”
Councillor Anna Keen
 
National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 19th to 26th November, is run by Terrence Higgins Trust on behalf of HIV Prevention England. The week encourages people to take a painless, simple and quick HIV test, particularly those from the groups most at-risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men and black African communities.
 
“We’re delighted that local councillors have taken the time to take a HIV test and show just how quick and easy it is to be sure of your status.
 
“Today, if you test positive, effective treatment means you can live as long as anyone else, and when the amount of blood is reduced to undetectable levels, you cannot pass on the virus.”
Bonnie Holt, Community Support Services Coordinator at Terrence Higgins Trust
 
Terrence Higgins Trust in Bristol provides support, information and advice services for those living with HIV and affected by HIV or poor sexual health at Aled Richard’s Centre, 8 -10 West Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS2 OBH. For more information or to book a test please call 01179 551 000.
 
Find out more about National HIV Testing Week at https://www.startswithme.org.uk/
 
HIV Facts:
  • HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight diseases.
  • An estimated 103,700 people are living with HIV in the UK and 6,000 people are diagnosed every year. Of these, 17% are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.
  • HIV treatment lowers the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels which stops it from damaging the immune system, and means the virus cannot be passed on to other people.
  • There is still a great deal of stigma about HIV. Stigma is damaging as it prevents people from getting tested, from accessing treatment and from living a happy and healthy life.
  • The most common way HIV is transmitted is through sex without a condom.
  • You cannot get HIV through casual or day-to-day contact, or kissing, spitting or sharing a cup, plate or toilet seat.