13th November 2017
It’s national HIV testing week. Give HIV the finger! A finger-prick test is all that it takes.
National HIV Testing Week, which this year will take place the week beginning Saturday 18 November, raises awareness of the importance of HIV testing and increases opportunities to test in different settings.
Since 2015, Public Health England (PHE) and a number of participating local authorities have funded a national HIV postal testing scheme for people from communities which experience a higher prevalence of HIV. *These include gay and bisexual men, black Africans, and individuals who have a partner from a high prevalence country.
In support of National HIV Testing Week 2017 PHE have expanded availability of free HIV postal test kits to all areas of England including North Yorkshire and York. The additional tests will be available to order from now until Thursday 4 January 2018. Postal HIV tests can be ordered from www.test.hiv.
If you want to have a full STI check or if you are not eligible for the national HIV testing scheme* YorSexualHealth (YSH) offers free and confidential HIV and STI testing in all of our clinics, online and in a range of community settings with our partners Yorkshire MESMAC in York and North Yorkshire . All testing is free and confidential.
What is a postal HIV test?
HIV postal test kits, or home sampling kits as they are also known, allow individuals to take a sample themselves at home by taking a finger-prick blood test. This postal test is then sent to a local laboratory for HIV testing and specialist management.
If a person has a reactive test result, they are contacted within five working days and given support options and information on where to get specialist services. Those with a negative result are contacted and informed within three days, or they can log in online using their unique personal code to check their results.
The national postal testing scheme complements existing HIV testing services. A postal test is highly accurate just four weeks after infection, and individuals who get a reactive result can get help in arranging a follow up clinical appointment. The scheme offers individual a viable alternative to testing in-person, and also provides the system major cost savings.
Testing is good for you. The sooner you find out you have HIV, the better it is for your health. If you have HIV for a long time without knowing, it can damage your body and even shorten your life. Test positive and you can enjoy a long, healthy life – by testing early and starting treatment in time. Test negative and you end any worries or doubt.
Testing is good for all of us. Someone taking medication and with an undetectable viral load* cannot pass on HIV. But most people get HIV from someone who doesn’t realise they have it. If more people test and get the medication they need we could dramatically cut the numbers who get HIV in the future.
It is a good idea to test at least once a year (or more often if you have unprotected sex with more than one partner).
*Viral load is how much HIV is in someone’s body, measured by a blood test. Treatment can push levels of HIV so low that tests show it’s at ‘undetectable’ levels.
Use the national online tools to help make the right decision on testing and choosing condoms https://www.startswithme.org.uk/