This World AIDS Day, Public Health England is urging residents across the South West to get tested regularly for HIV as almost half (43%) of new cases in 2019 were a late diagnosis, which can significantly impact a person’s life expectancy.
It is critical that anyone who is at risk of HIV, including older people, Black Africans, heterosexual males and females, those living in high incidence areas or who have recently had sex with a new or casual partner get tested. This is important as an early diagnosis can increase life expectancy and almost match that of people who are HIV free.
The continued fall in new HIV diagnoses is to be celebrated. However, the momentum behind prevention efforts must be maintained to achieve the nation’s goal of zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030. Frequent HIV testing, the offer of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among those most at risk of HIV and prompt treatment of those diagnosed are key to achieving this aim.
Norah O’Brien, Sexual Health Facilitator for Public Health England South West said:“It is really promising to see a downward trend for the South West and shows that good progress has been made in reducing transmission. We hope that the awareness generated from World AIDS Day can help to continue this downward trend and see a further reduction in new HIV transmission in the future.”
“Safe sex, PrEP and regular testing are important to preventing future transmission. While practicing safe sex, the use of PrEP can help to lower the risks of transmission even further and getting tested regularly can help with early diagnosis of those who are unaware of their infection.”
“Detecting HIV early allows safe and effective treatment to start sooner and those diagnosed can expect to have a life expectancy almost matching that of people who are HIV free. Free testing is available at sexual health clinics.”
Those at risk of HIV and STIs can still access services through sexual health clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many clinics offer online testing, which means people can order tests using clinic websites, take them in the privacy of their own home, return by post and receive results via text, phone call or post.
You can search for you nearest clinic by visiting the NHS website at: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/sexual-health/find-a-sexual-health-clinic
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