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National HIV Testing Week 2018

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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's Sexual Health team is urging staff and members of the public to get tested as part National HIV Testing Week (17 - 23 November 2018).

The Oxfordshire Sexual Health Service, which provides free and confidential sexual health advice at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and at clinics across the county, is 'giving HIV the finger' by promoting the quick and easy free finger-prick HIV test.

As part of the campaign, the team will promote regular testing among the most affected population groups, including those from Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) backgrounds, as well as gay and bisexual men, and to reduce the rates of undiagnosed people or those diagnosed late.

A total of 17.6 percent of staff members at the Trust identify as BME. This equates to around 2,200 people.

There are approximately 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV, and of these people, one in eight do not know they have the virus.

Sandra Rushwaya, Acting Lead Sexual Health Adviser at the Trust, said: "We know that for most people, barriers to getting tested include the perceived stigma and access to testing.

"During National HIV Testing Week, we want to show our communities that getting tested is now a much simpler process than was the case previously.

"We will be offering a free finger-prick test, which takes a sample of blood and gives a result on the immune system's reaction to HIV within minutes."

HIV testing is crucial. It identifies those who are undiagnosed, avoids late diagnoses, and enables people to start effective treatment immediately, preventing potential illness, and protecting their sexual partners from HIV infection.

The Sexual Health team will run a stall by the League of Friends Café on Level 2 of the John Radcliffe Hospital all day Monday (19 November 2018) and Thursday afternoon (2.00pm-5.00pm, 22 November).

Tests will also be offered at the Churchill Hospital, The Orchard Health Centre in Banbury, and also clinics in Bicester, Didcot, Witney, Abingdon, Wantage, and Kidlington.

For clinic opening times and for more information, please visit the Oxfordshire Sexual Health Service website.

Modern medication means anyone living with HIV can enjoy a full and healthy future without fear of passing the virus on to their partners, ensuring they can continue to enjoy an active sex life and plan a family.

Those who are undiagnosed spend on average three to five years unaware they have the virus.

More than 40,000 people are seen by the Trust's Sexual Health team every year, over 30,000 of whom have tests carried out.

Dr Anne Edwards, Clinical Lead for Sexual Health at the Trust, said: "Oxfordshire Sexual Health offers a comprehensive expert service for anyone wanting advice, free treatment and support, as well as STI testing.

"We offer a full range of free contraceptive choices, and we encourage anyone worried about HIV to come and discuss their concerns.

"HIV is very treatable and preventable. We offer acute support for those at high risk, including treatments that may stop people becoming infected."