Hackney Council supports campaign to increase HIV testing

HIV testing week logo

Hackney Council is supporting National HIV Testing Week the national campaign to increase HIV testing, (22 to 29 November), and is raising awareness of how easy it is to take an HIV test in Hackney.

More than a quarter of people living with HIV in the UK are unaware of their condition. Nearly half of new cases of HIV in Hackney are diagnosed late – this means they are missing out on effective treatment - with heterosexual people and people of African heritage more likely to be diagnosed late.

Early diagnosis of HIV can improve life expectancy and considerably reduce the chances of others being infected. With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, a person living with HIV can look forward to a normal life expectancy, nearly a quarter of all HIV related deaths are the result of late diagnosis.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
Some people in Hackney could be putting themselves and others at risk because they don’t know their HIV status. If people know their HIV status, they can get treatment early and protect themselves and their partners. We know people don’t get tested for a number of reasons including the stigma that is still attached to HIV or, they may not realise that early diagnosis can result in effective treatment. We want it to be simple and routine for people to take the test in Hackney and we will be looking at how we can make it even easier
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

Throughout HIV Testing Week staff from Homerton Sexual Health Services and Positive East will be out and about in Hackney offering help and advice to residents and visitors. They will be at various locations including Tesco in Morning Lane, CLR James Library in Dalston and Upper Clapton United Reform Church.

Homerton Sexual Health Services offers a full range of services at a choice of venues, the newly refurbished Clifden Centre at Homerton University Hospital, the Ivy Centre at St Leonards in Hoxton and at John Scott Health Centre near Woodberry Down. Instant HIV testing is available from many GP surgeries across Hackney and there are also 18 community pharmacies offering a free, confidential finger prick test. These pharmacies display a sticker in the window.

Effective treatment is available free on the NHS for anyone who is diagnosed. Many people who have HIV do not realise it as symptoms can be mild, vague or go unnoticed. Testing for HIV is easier than ever and HIV positive people who receive adequate treatment can live as long as anyone else, 75 plus years in most cases.

By better understanding how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today - people can take care of their own health and the health of others.

In 2011 in Hackney 902 men and 446 women received HIV related care.

Information on sexual health services in Hackney and a list of all the pharmacies offering tests are also available. A national free postal testing service will be available for HIV testing week.