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Colchester councillor takes public HIV test for National HIV Testing Week

Date issued: 17 November 2017

Tim Young, Councillor for Greenstead in Colchester, took a public HIV test today in an effort to encourage more local people to test for the virus during National HIV Testing Week. Tim had a simple finger-prick blood test.

The negative result was delivered to Tim just 15 minutes after his test.

New figures released in October revealed that 5,164 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2016. 1 in 8 people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus.

Organised by Terrence Higgins Trust as part of the Essex Sexual Health Service, Tim met with staff to discuss the importance of normalising testing and busting stigma.

National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 18th to 25th November, is run by Terrence Higgins Trust on behalf of HIV Prevention England. The week encourages people to take a painless, simple and quick HIV test, particularly those from the groups most at-risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men and black African communities.

Tim Young said: "I was delighted to meet with Terrence Higgins Trust in Colchester and raise awareness of the importance of testing for HIV.

"As I found out today by taking a test - testing is free, fast and simple, and it's one of the best weapons we have to stop the spread of HIV."

Sophie Milner, Senior Practitioner at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "We're delighted that Councillor Tim Young has taken the time to take a HIV test today and show just how quick and easy it is to be sure of your status.

"Today, if you test positive, effective treatment means you can live as long as anyone else, and medication reduced the amount of virus in your blood to such low levels that, you cannot pass on HIV. Early testing and diagnosis are key to combating this epidemic and we need to remove the stigma around HIV testing.

There are now a range of testing options available, from postal tests, to GUM clinics, community sites and home testing."

In Essex Terrence Higgins Trust offer rapid HIV testing every Monday between 12pm and 4pm at Harlow CAB and between 5:30pm and 8:30pm at Pitsea Leisure Centre. If you are aged 18 or over Terrence Higgins Trust can also provide you with a free HIV home sampling kit where you send a small sample of blood to the lab, and your results are available within a week.

For information regarding rapid HIV testing, or to request a home HIV sampling kit contact essex@tht.org.uk.

Additionally you can test for HIV at Essex Sexual Health Service clinics across the county, and in Colchester this is delivered six days a week at 66 High Street.

Essex residents can also access the Essex Sexual Health Service 'Test at Home' system for HIV. It can be ordered online from the Essex Sexual Health Service website (see below).'Test at Home' is also available for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. The results are sent by text.

For more information about sexual health or to book an appointment for testing, please visit www.eshs.org.uk or phone 0300 003 1212.

Find out more about National HIV Testing Week at www.startswithme.org.uk

ENDS