People at higher risk of HIV can now order online a home sampling test kit, through a new national service.
They are also encouraged to take the simple finger prick blood sample during this month’s National HIV Testing Week (22 November to 29 November).
It is estimated that around a quarter of people across the country living with HIV don’t know they have it.
There are more than 1,000 people diagnosed with HIV in Berkshire. By applying the national figure of 25per cent, this means there could be some 270 people in in the county living undiagnosed with the condition.
HIV is now a long-term health condition that people can live with for many years if given the right treatment and care. Getting this treatment as early as possible means people living with it have the best chance at leading a healthy life.
If they don’t discover they are living with HIV at an early stage, they miss out on treatment to help them lead healthy lives.
Happily the proportion and number of people diagnosed late has declined since the mid 2000’s - but there is still room to improve. In Berkshire approximately half of all people diagnosed with HIV in 2013 were caught at a late stage of infection – hence the life-saving importance of increased HIV testing.
Gay and other men who have same gender sex, and black African people, are the two groups that continue to carry a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic.
People living in Wokingham can get a free HIV test in a number of ways:
- Requesting a free self-sampling kit online from the Free HIV Testing website
- Visiting an open access sexual health clinic, the Florey Clinic has sites in Wokingham and Reading
- Asking their GP for an HIV test - there is no need for lengthy discussion about the test. It just involves having blood taken, or even a finger prick
- Via a test from Thames Valley Positive Support
"It has never been easier for those who have been at risk of HIV to get tested, and I urge anyone in this position to get tested," said Cllr Julian McGhee-Sumner, executive member for health and wellbeing at Wokingham Borough Council.
"Knowing that you have HIV means you begin treatment sooner, and that can make the condition far more easily manageable."
Dr Fabian Chen, sexual health and HIV consultant at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, said: "A simple blood test for HIV is now made even easier to help you test anywhere and anytime. Early testing and diagnosis is invaluable as we have effective treatment and great medical care. Test now - your health service and country values your life and health."