Luton Council is supporting the National HIV Testing Week in the run up to World AIDS Day on Sunday, December 1.
From Saturday, November 16, the council is encouraging people to test for HIV, particularly those from the groups most affected by HIV, including gay and bisexual men and black African men and women.
This year, the campaign is calling on people to ‘Give HIV the finger’ by taking a simple, painless and quick finger prick HIV test.
In Luton, HIV late diagnosis remains high at 57.5 per cent of overall diagnoses according to Public Health England’s most recent statistics.
By raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and increasing the availability of testing, we reduce the number of people diagnosed at a late stage of HIV infection
An early HIV diagnosis makes the condition easier to manage by commencing treatment early and reduces the risk of the virus being passed on to others. People can be rest assured that, if diagnosed with HIV, they can access free treatment and support.
Testing for HIV puts you in control to know your status and, adhering to treatment, will reduce this risk of you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan.
Gerry Taylor, Corporate Director for Public Health and Wellbeing for Luton Council said: “Getting tested regularly is really important to diagnose HIV early.
"By raising awareness of HIV in Luton and increasing the accessibility of testing, we can reduce the number of people diagnosed at a late stage of HIV infection, start people on treatment early and reduce the risk of the virus being passed on to others.”
Luton Council is working with Luton Sexual Health and the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity to raise awareness and the opportunity for local residents to test at least once a year.
They will be giving out free condoms, and hosting a range of testing and awareness events for National HIV Testing Week:
Saturday, November 16, at Futures House, Marsh Farm from 12.30pm till 6.30pm.
Monday, November 18, at Luton Town Hall, from 11am till 4pm.
Wednesday, November 20, at California Inn LGBT Bar, from 8pm to 12 midnight.
Friday, November 22, at Flame Nightclub - Register and order a home testing kit, from 8pm to 12 midnight.
Saturday, November 23, at Barberbox, from 12pm to 2pm.
Saturday, November 23, at the Terrence Higgins Trust Luton office, from 3pm till 5pm.
Karen Bowers, Services and Partnership Manager at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "This National HIV Testing Week we’re encouraging anyone who might be at risk to get tested.
"Getting tested regularly should be something we’re all doing in order to protect ourselves. Testing for HIV is quick and easy.
"If your results come back positive, we can offer all the support, advice and information you need.
"People living with HIV and on effective treatment can not only live long fulfilled lives after, but they also can’t pass on the virus to others.
"Effective HIV treatment works by reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels. This means that the levels of HIV become so low that the virus cannot be passed on.
"Testing is nothing to be feared or embarrassed about. There is nothing embarrassing about making sure your sexual health is a priority."
Terrence Higgins Trust provides support, information and advice services for those living with HIV and affected by HIV or poor sexual health.
For more information about the services the trust provides visit www.tht.org.uk/centres-and-services/luton.