Church opens door for HIV testing

Free confidential HIV testing and advice is on offer at a city centre church on Monday 27 July.

St Bride’s, on Percy Street, Toxteth is offering the community testing drop-in in partnership with Liverpool Community Health following the success of a similar event on World AIDS Day, December 1st, last year.

Worlds Aids Day is the international campaign to remember those who have died from AIDS related illness or are living with HIV.

On Monday 27 July, St Bride’s is open from 12-3pm, with specialist community HIV Nurses on hand to offer friendly and confidential advice on sexual health and provide a free HIV test.

This is the first in a series of community drop-in HIV testing sessions in the city centre run by Liverpool Community Health (LCH) NHS Trust’s specialist HIV Nursing Service and the Armistead Centre HIV prevention and sexual health promotion service.

The aim is to increase the awareness and acceptability of HIV testing, and to encourage everyone who is sexually active and feels that they may be at risk of having contracted the virus to get tested in order to improve early diagnosis, treatment of HIV and reduce onward transmission.

The other two testing sessions are on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 August from 12-3pm at the Health Information Centre on Hanover Street. Rapid testing will be available at these sessions – but not at the St Bride’s session as it is a community venue and not a clinic.

Rapid HIV testing is also available at The Armistead Centre in The Beat on Hanover Street every Wednesday from 2pm till 3.30pm.

Robert Downes, HIV Nurse at LCH, said: ‘We know that early diagnosis and treatment is vital, it leads to improvement in quality of life and reduces the risk of it being transmitted to others. The majority of people who are living with HIV and follow the recommended advice about treatment live healthy lives and have close to normal life expectancies.’

Martin Fenerty, Manager of the Armistead Centre, said: ‘The free test involves a Specialist Nurse taking a blood sample from the arm; it’s quick and relatively painless. The result will be available in one week, when the patient will be contacted with the result and offered further support if necessary.’

Cate Jacobs, a church warden at St Bride’s said, ‘The acceptance and inclusivity of St Bride’s are really important when people living with HIV can still experience judgment or feel silenced within faith communities.’

For free confidential information, advice or support on HIV, please contact Liverpool Community Health’s HIV team: 0151 285 2802, Armistead Centre: 0151 247 6561 or Sahir House: 0151 237 3989.