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For this year's HIV Testing Awareness Week, 7-13 February, Portsmouth City Council is getting behind the 'Give HIV the Finger' campaign to show how the risk of HIV can be managed through a simple free home test kit using a small blood sample from a finger prick.

Home tests can be ordered online or taken through Portsmouth’s Sexual Health services. Getting an early diagnosis, if the test result is positive, allows individuals to carry on protecting themselves and to receive treatment quickly should they need it.

Cllr Jason Fazackarley Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care says:

“Our approach to HIV has radically changed since the virus was first identified. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have accurate information about HIV, and easy access to testing and treatment so that they can enjoy long healthy lives. The risk of HIV is present no matter what our sexual orientation – whether our relationships are with people of the same or opposite sex – anyone can become infected and unknowingly infect others if they do not know their HIV status. It’s vital we are all aware of the risks of not testing and of the options to reduce and manage our own risk.”

Not only can we now all ‘Give HIV the finger’ by doing a simple home test kits, there are treatments and medications that can prevent passing on the virus if you are HIV positive, and also a new drug called PrEP which can prevent infection.

Helen Atkinson Director of Public Health for Portsmouth City Council says:

“During the pandemic we have seen fewer people attending Portsmouth’s Sexual Health services, which offer free HIV testing in clinics or through home testing kits. There has also been a fall in the number of those who do attend accepting the offer of a free HIV test. This is worrying as it means more people will get a late diagnosis and could unknowingly be passing on HIV – and we know early diagnosis is key to managing HIV successfully. So I urge everyone who is sexually active to take regular HIV test regularly and visit www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk for more information and advice to keep protecting themselves and others.”

The Sexual Health services for Portsmouth are located at St Mary’s Health Campus, and offer advice and support with positive diagnoses, medication, and offers free condoms. Visitors are treated with dignity and respect, and offered a high level of service, care, and treatment in a welcoming and friendly environment. The service offers a mix of both drop-in and appointment only slots. For more information on clinics or appointments visit www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk or call 0300 300 2016.

Notes to editors

It is important people know their HIV status so they can access effective treatment early if they have the condition to benefit their own health, and so they can manage their condition to a level where it can no longer be passed on to other people.

The home testing finger prick test kit being promoted allows blood to be collected in a small vile through at finger prick and then posted to a laboratory. The result is then sent back to the person testing. The HIV finger prick tests can also be ordered online at https://freetesting.hiv/

For more information about Sexual Health Services visit www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk