In a bid to reduce levels of undiagnosed HIV in Brighton & Hove, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is encouraging gay and bisexual men who may have been at risk to attend a local service offering one-hour HIV testing. One in four people who have HIV in the UK are undiagnosed, and there are now more people living with the condition than ever before.
THT’s ‘Fastest’ service is free and confidential, and involves taking a finger-prick blood test which is analysed straight away, with the results generally provided within one hour. Those who attend the clinic, which is run in partnership with the Claude Nicol Clinic, will be given information and support before and after the test, and anyone who tests positive will be given full support in choosing a treatment centre. They will also be given information on the range of support services available, including counselling and peer support.
THT clinics and workers also offer information and advice on STIs and safer sex, as well as giving out free condoms.
Mark Cull, Health Promotion Co-ordinator for THT in Brighton, said: “With recent medical advances, it’s now possible for people with HIV to live long and healthy lives. However, if they leave it too late to get tested, they’re inevitably setting themselves up for serious health problems. If you’ve had unprotected sex you may have put yourself at risk, so we’d urge you to get tested as soon as possible.”
The drive to encourage more men to come forward for testing comes following the results of a recent survey of men who used ‘Fastest’, asking them to rate their experience of the service. Over sixty men took part in the survey and 98% were either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with every stage of the ‘Fastest’ process including pre and post test discussions and the testing process itself. Comments on ‘Fastest’ included:
“It was very professional”
“I tried it once in the past and thought it was brilliant”
“Very good service”
‘Fastest’ takes place at THT’s Brighton centre at 61 Ship Street every Monday (not including Bank Holidays) from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. The number of men who can be tested at each session is ten, so people are advised to arrive early.
For further information on the ‘Fastest’ service, please contact THT in Brighton on 01273 764 200.