THT launches new weekly HIV testing session in Birkenhead

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HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is to launch a weekly rapid HIV testing session for gay men in Birkenhead, beginning on Wednesday 27th July at THT’s centre on Bridge Street.

The rapid testing service, which is called ‘Fastest’, is free and confidential. THT’s centre on Bridge Street will provide an alternative testing environment for people who are not able to access services during the normal working day, or who may be put off by hospitals and traditional sexual health clinics. Although specifically targeted at gay men, anyone is welcome to attend and take the test.

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of people living with HIV in the North West of England. In 2009, indicated there were 7,400 people living with HIV in the region, of whom 26% were undiagnosed. Gay men have been identified as one of the groups most at risk from HIV, representing almost half of the new infections in the North West in 2009.

Testing is done using a finger-prick blood test, with the results provided within one hour. Those who attend the clinic will be given information and support before and after the test, and anyone who tests positive will be referred immediately to a specialist clinic. THT staff will also provide free condoms, and information and advice on safer sex.

Emma Richards, Centre Manager for THT in Birkenhead, said: “With advances in HIV treatment, there are now far more reasons to know your HIV status than there are not to. We’re delighted to be launching our first Fastest service in the Wirral, and hope we can encourage more people to come forward for testing and reduce undiagnosed HIV locally. So, if you haven’t had a test in a while, or you’re worried you may have put yourself at risk, please come along and take advantage of our fast and friendly service.”

From Wednesday 27th July, ‘Fastest’ will run on Wednesday evenings from 5:00pm – 8:00pm at 5 Bridge Street, Birkenhead, CH41 1AS. For further information or to make an appointment, please call (0151) 666 9890, or email info.wirral@tht.org.uk.