Health chiefs raise awareness of regular HIV testing

Dr Helen McIlveen, clinical lead for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trusts sexual health services.
Dr Helen McIlveen, clinical lead for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trusts sexual health services.

Community health experts are raising awareness of the need for regular testing.

As part of national HIV testing week, which starts on November 18, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s sexual health service is encouraging people at risk of HIV to have regular tests.

They say it will improve their health outcomes and reduce the risk of onward transmission.

Clinical lead Dr Helen McIlveen said: “I am pleased to say that across the country we are seeing a reduction in late diagnoses because people are thinking about whether they are at risk and getting a test.

“However, while rates of late diagnosis have reduced, too many people are still diagnosed late, especially among heterosexual men and women.

“HIV testing week is an ideal opportunity for people who have not previously thought of themselves as being at risk of infection, to take advantage of the range of options available.

“Our sexual health clinics in North Tyneside offer a range of free and confidential services. People can visit any sexual health clinic – it doesn’t have to be in their local area. And they can find information about services by downloading our free app or visiting the website.”

Increasing uptake of HIV testing is critical to reduce late HIV diagnoses and the number of people who remain undiagnosed, and therefore controlling the spread of HIV.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides a free and confidential HIV testing service at clinics in North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Care of people with HIV is provided locally with four consultants specialising in HIV. There is also an HIV specialist nurse who can give one to one support to patients and provides education for professionals.

Information and advice about sexual health and the services is available on a free interactive app.

The app includes centralised booking and where to find clinics, where to get free condoms, online symptom checker and advice about testing and support.

Users can also email questions using this app direct to the service to get the advice they need from an experienced and qualified sexual health practitioner.

To find out more about the service or to download the app visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/sexual-health