Get tested your way during HIV testing week

Red Ribbon flag
Tower Hamlets Council is working alongside local organisations and partners during national HIV Testing Week from 17 – 24 November, in the run up to World AIDS day on 1 December, to raise awareness of the importance of getting tested.

The week-long campaign promotes the numerous ways anyone can get a free, confidential test – a finger-prick test, an oral swab or a blood test – and in numerous places.

Approximately one in eight people with HIV do not know they have it. Early diagnosis leads to a normal life expectancy as treatment and support is easy to access and completely free. This helps to avoid potential illness and protects sexual partners from HIV infection. Late diagnosis can have serious consequences, including a ten times more likelihood of death within the first year.

Thanks to the success of local programmes, the number of people diagnosed late in Tower Hamlets remains low and work continues to promote HIV testing and increase access.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Locally alongside our health partners, we’ve made great progress in increasing the amount of people that are getting tested. But the key is to get tested as early as possible. We have fantastic, supportive local services that help anyone gain access to a free, confidential test.”

The campaign is particularly encouraging gay and bisexual men and black communities to test at least every year as these groups make up seven out of 10 people in the UK living with HIV. Even if you are not in these groups, you should have an HIV test when you change partners.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus most commonly passed on by having sex without a condom.It can also be transferred by sharing infected needles and other injecting equipment, and from an HIV-positive mother to her child during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

Those who have been diagnosed with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy and have been undetectable for at least six months cannot pass HIV on to their sexual partners. U=U means Undetectable = untransmittable.

In the UK, people are testing more, staying protected by using condoms, getting diagnosed and starting HIV treatment earlier. Those most at risk are also starting to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug that reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 90%. Thanks to this combination approach, the UK is witnessing a substantial decline in HIV diagnoses.

Councillor Denise Jones, Lead Member for Health, Adults and Community said: “HIV doesn’t always have symptoms, or ones that last very long so we are encouraging residents to get tested regularly. It’s important to get tested at least once a year or more often if you are very sexually active. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the sooner you can take treatment, protecting yourself and others.”

Positive East, London’s largest HIV charity, provides free testing, sessions and support in a safe, welcoming space for anyone who wants to learn more or needs help with longer term care.

To mark the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day on 1 December, Positive East presented the mayor with a Red Ribbon flag that will hang in the main reception of town hall. The flag represents: remembrance– for people who have lost their lives to HIV; solidarity – with people living with HIV and in particular those for whom HIV still poses a struggle; and hope – because there is a real possibility in sight of ending the onward transmission of HIV. 

People can get active and raise money for HIV services by taking part in a 5 or 10K run as part of Red Run in Victoria Park on 1 December for the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Hosted by Positive East, anyone can register for £18 by 27 November and select one of 36 HIV charities to support.

Positive East runs a free and confidential HIV testing service at 159 Mile End Road, E1 4AQ each Saturday from 11am to 3pm and each Wednesday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.  

They will also be hosting extra clinics and information stalls alongside their regular clinics during National HIV Testing Week, open to anyone:  

Date

Time

Venue

Activity

Saturday 17 November

11am – 3pm

Positive East, 159 Mile End Road, E1 4AQ

HIV Testing and STI screening clinic

Tuesday 20 November

1 – 5pm

Riverside Females Hostel
20 Garford Street, West India Dock Road, E14 8JG

 

Testing clinic for women hostel

Tuesday 20 November

 

 

6-8pm

Positive East

HIV Awareness Session for Youth Stop AIDS (QMUL branch)

Wednesday 21November

5.30pm – 8.30pm

Positive East

Positive East testing clinic

Saturday 24November

11-3pm

 

11-2pm

 

11-3pm

Positive East

 

Barkantine GP, 121 Westferry Rd, E14 8JH

Positive East

 

Training faith leaders on HIV awareness

HIV testing

 

 

Positive East testing Clinic

Saturday 1 Dec

10am – 5pm

Victoria Park

 

Annual flagship World AIDS Day Red Run fundraiser and community event

 

Posted on Friday 16th November 2018