LGBT Foundation to run daily HIV clinics as part of National HIV Testing Week campaign

Published: 16 November 2017 Tags: National Testing Week, PaSH, LGBT Foundation, HIV By John Walding

LGBT Foundation is encouraging those most affected by HIV to get tested as part of a national campaign to increase HIV testing. Through HIV Prevention England campaign, LGBT Foundation will reach out to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, highlighting the pivotal role testing plays in allowing people taking control of their sexual health.

LGBT Foundation will be building on the campaign by hosting daily testing clinics in sites across Greater Manchester from the 18 November – 3 December. It will also be extending the hours of testing clinics at LGBT Foundation’s centre in Manchester. In addition to the testing clinics, there will be advice on window periods for testing, developments in treatment and prevention methods, support available for people who experience a reactive result, and promotion of alternative testing options, including postal testing kits and sexual health (GUM) clinics.

To promote our test and talk service LGBT Foundation invited Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Danny Beard to document his experience. Danny shared ‘I got tested by the LGBT foundation and it was quick, easy and I knew my status within in 20 mins. During the testing fortnight, LGBT foundation are making it even easier to get tested by positioning themselves all around Greater Manchester in various locations so there’s loads more opportunities to know your status!’

It’s estimated that over 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV, with 91,987 accessing care and support services in 2016. 479 people were newly diagnosed in the North West of England last year. The number of new diagnoses in men who have sex with men (MSM) accounts for 54% of all new cases nationally, of which, 32% were diagnosed late.

A recent report by Public Health England (PHE) estimates that only 28% of gay and bisexual men tested for HIV last year through sexual health services, the national HIV self-sampling service and in community settings.

However, the great news is that England has achieved its UNAIDS 90:90:90 ambition, with 90% of people living with HIV infection diagnosed, 97% of people diagnosed receiving treatment and 97% of those receiving treatment become virally suppressed. Further to this we also continue to see an ageing population of people living with HIV rather dying because of HIV.

Peter Bampton, Sexual Health Lead at LGBT Foundation, explains:

“Greater Manchester has a high prevalence of HIV with Manchester having an extreme prevalence which means that we’re likely to know someone living with HIV. HIV can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender identity or ethnicity but there is a larger prevalence amongst gay and bisexual men and Black African populations. We also know that trans communities are disproportionately affected by HIV and encourage you to seek a test where you feel most comfortable, if you think you might have been at risk of exposure.

“As a community, we need to continue to encourage one another to get tested and know our statuses. It’s really important that if you’re sexually active that you test annually or more frequently (approximately every 3 months) if you’re having sex with new, casual and/or multiple partners.

“When it comes to testing, we want to make sure that people feel comfortable and confident to take a HIV test. This is integral to our test & talk service, allowing people to talk openly about the sex that they’re having and get the information and support that they need without fear of judgement or stigma. The test we use involves a simple finger-prick which requires only a small amount of blood and the results are available in 20 minutes. Testing in community settings has helped us to support people who have never tested before and address any anxieties or barriers they face when accessing sexual health support.”

As well as its clinics, LGBT Foundation continues to deliver a range of sexual health workshops to LGBT people across Greater Manchester, from healthy relationships and consent through to navigating hook-up apps and disclosure.

LGBT Foundation will also be delivering loose and condoms to Greater Manchester community venues, bars and clubs through the Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) Partnership, alongside their Safer Sex Packs, funded by Manchester Pride, to venues throughout Manchester’s Gay Village.

Peter continued: “Every time someone gets tested for HIV, we are one step closer to ending all new cases of HIV. Knowing your status means you’re taking control of your sexual health.”

For further information on LGBT Foundation’s National HIV Testing Week services, visit www.lgbt.foundation/NHTW or call 0345 3 30 30 30. For information about LGBT Foundation’s Sexual Health programme, visit http://lgbt.foundation/sexualhealth

LGBT Foundation is proud to be part of the Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) partnership with BHA for Equality and George House Trust. The partnership has recently launched a comprehensive sexual health website, including signposting to testing and support services, at www.gmpash.org.uk