A Coventry Councillor is to take a public HIV test in an effort to encourage more local people to test for the virus. Cllr Kevin Foster, Councillor for Cheylesmore Ward and Leader of the local Conservative Group, will attend the Manor Road branch of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) on Monday 14 November for a simple finger-prick blood test. His result will be delivered within 20 minutes.
Currently, one in four people with HIV in the UK do not know they have it. This is bad for their health and the health of others, as they are not getting vital treatment and are more likely to pass the virus on. THT wants to see rates of undiagnosed and late diagnosed HIV halved within the next five years, something it is lobbying for in its policy document HIV and Sexual Health: 12 things the Government can do.
THT’s Coventry centre runs a weekly ‘Fastest’ clinic for local people every Monday from 5.00pm – 8.00pm. Testing is free and anonymous, and involves a finger-prick blood test, with the results available within one hour.
Cllr Kevin Foster said: “The Terrence Higgins Trust does fantastic work to support those with HIV and to promote awareness, as well as understanding, of this condition. The advances in medical science over recent years make early diagnosis all the more important, not just for the person concerned who can receive treatment, but their family as well. The test is simple, quick and relatively painless. That is why I am happy to help THT in Coventry mark World AIDS Day by undertaking this test.”
Ewan McPherson from THT in Coventry said: “It’s fantastic Cllr Foster is helping us to mark World AIDS Day by raising awareness of HIV testing. People with undiagnosed HIV are not only putting their own health at risk, they are also more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly, so it’s vital we encourage more people in Coventry to come forward for testing.”
World AIDS Day, which has been running every December since 1988, is dedicated to raising awareness of HIV and AIDS. In the UK alone, around 85,000 people are living with HIV and over 6,500 are diagnosed every year.