You can get tested for HIV

A series of events is taking place in Liverpool make it as easy as possible for people to be tested for HIV.

HIV Testing Week, from 5-11 February, is now in its 10th year, and Public Health Liverpool has teamed up with local organisations Axess, PaSH and Sahir House to promote the programme.

Testing is free and confidential and can take place at a sexual health clinic, a GP surgery, via a home testing or through outreach, options to suit everybody.

People can order a free self-test, which gives a result in 15 minutes, or a self-sampling postal test where the test is sent off to a laboratory, with the results sent directly to the individual.

A condom distribution scheme is available all over the city, and people can order online or via a QR code on adverts displayed at all events, on stalls, social media messages and pop up stands, plus service information handed out to communities.

The following sessions are taking place:

Axess Sexual Health:

  • Wed 7 Feb – LJMU Horizon Heights, Skelhorne Street, L1 1JD – HIV prevention session
  • Thur 8 Feb – LJMU Student Life Building, L3 5AH – HIV testing session
  • Fri 9 Feb – Speke House Veterans, Heathgate Avenue, L24 7SH

Liverpool PaSH:

  • Tue 6 Feb – ASDA Everton (1pm-5pm), Breck Road, L6 5DR
  • Wed 7 Feb – 151 Dale St, LCVS
  • Wed 7 Feb – Kuumba Imani Centre, 4 Princes Road, L8
  • Fri 9 Feb – LJMU Feminist Society, 10 Copperas Hill, L3 6AH – prevention stand and talks
  • Sat 10 Feb – Migrant Network of Care, Liverpool Central Library (2pm – 5pm), William Brown Street, L3 8EW

Sahir House:

  • Distribution of safe sex supplies, condom packs and advice throughout the week
  • Mon 5 Feb – Information ‘pop-up’ (testing advice, prevention resources) at City of Liverpool college, Clarence Street Campus, L3 5TP
  • Thur 8 Feb – “Testing doesn’t have to be a Drag” main event – an evening of with local drag queens to raise awareness around testing and promote services locally at The Navy Bar Social, 27 Stanley Street, L1 6AA

Those who are HIV negative need to use protection such as PrEP or condoms to stay safe. Those who are HIV positive can live a long and healthy life with treatment which means levels of infection in the body are so low they cannot be passed on.

Five years ago, Liverpool signed up to ‘Fast-Track Cities’– a global network that shares expertise and works in partnership to eradicate HIV and AIDS by 2030. The city has already exceeded its targets relating to testing, treatment and viral suppression.

There are currently 873 people in Liverpool living with HIV – which is now below that seen in other large core cities – and the number of people estimated to be infected but not know their status has fallen from 115 to an estimated 45-50 people. We are making significant progress towards identifying all people living with HIV, and successfully bringing them into treatment and care.

Councillor Harry Doyle, Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “HIV testing week provides a vital opportunity to get tested, and in Liverpool we have many ways to access.

“We also have fantastic HIV treatment and care services and know that with effective treatment, with a positive diagnosis you can lead a long and healthy life.

“Our HIV support services provided by George House Trust and Sahir House are also there to help with advice and information should you need it”.

Director of Public Health, Professor Matthew Ashton, said: “We are proud of the progress we have made in relation to HIV testing and treatment in recent years.

“We have redesigned our sexual health and HIV services to make contraception, and STI and HIV testing more accessible. People can now also order tests online to do at home, as well as access our excellent clinics city-wide.

“Please ensure you test and know your status and help us achieve our goal of ending all new HIV transmissions by 2030”.

Clinical Outreach lead from Axess Sexual Health, Chris Higgins, said: “We know that access to testing is crucial, testing is free and confidential and we are located in many outreach venues and clinics across the city.

“Testing is also the only way to know if you have HIV and worth doing because people can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms.

“We further encourage you to access our services across the city to continue to get PrEP and condoms alongside testing as a vital approach to HIV prevention.”

Senior Sahir House lead and Positive Speaker Kath Charters said: “As a woman who was diagnosed in the late 80s, I am amazed by the advances in HIV testing that mean that you can now  test from in the privacy of your own home or at a local clinic getting results within a half hour.

“I had to wait nearly a week and had to deal with the stress of the wait which heightened the anticipation of a result. It was the waiting that was very stressful at the time. Imagine being told now that you will live a full expected life span and have children!  My peers and I at the time couldn’t imagine the prospect of giving birth to healthy children or reaching our late fifties.

“As testing is now so accessible I see no reason why I wouldn’t test regularly as part of my sexual health screening and would encourage other women to do this too.

Testing is quick and easy. It is reassuring to know that with new treatment regimes, there is no need to fear a HIV positive diagnosis. Should that happen you will be supported,  you will be given immediate access to effective treatment and be able to have a full  and healthy sex life, have support during any pregnancy to have a healthy child, and work in any industry or service you choose to.”

Liverpool Waterfront