Kingston and Merton councils aim to tackle London’s high rate of HIV infection by offering free testing – as thousands of Britons live undiagnosed with the disease.
Ahead of World AIDS day on 1 December, health trusts in Kingston and Merton boroughs are involved in National HIV Testing Week, which runs until 30 November.
Free and confidential tests are being offered so that people to get themselves checked as late diagnosis of HIV affects the chances of successfully managing the disease.
Dr Kay Eilbert, Merton’s director of public health, said: “An estimated one in four people in the UK with HIV are unaware of their infection.
“The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the more likely it can be managed and those infected can lead a long and healthy life.”
Between 2011 and 2013 in Merton borough, 39% of HIV diagnoses were made at a late stage of infection, compared to 45% across England.
Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, a cabinet member for adult social care and health in Merton, echoed Dr Eilbert’s sentiments.
“Late diagnosis is one of the biggest contributing factors to morbidity and mortality of people with HIV,” said Councillor Cooper-Marbiah.
In addition, over half of HIV transmissions results from people not being aware that they have the disease.
Kingston councillor Julie Pickering, lead member for health and social care, said: “Since people are unaware, they are not accessing treatment and care.
“Unknowingly, they remain the biggest source of onward transmission. I urge people who have not been tested to take this opportunity and help us control this illness.”
The free and confidential tests provide results in 15 minutes and the clinics also are able to provide further sexual health issues such as contraception and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
Testing events in Kingston:
Kingston Younglivin Bus, Town Centre outside Accessorize
Tuesday 25 November 10am – 4pm
Thursday 27 November 10am – 7pm
Saturday 29 November 10am – 4pm
Testing in Merton:
St George’s Hospital, 020 8725 3353
Epsom and St Helier Hospital, 020 8296 2543
Patrick Doody Clinic, Wimbledon, 020 3458 5115
Wide Way Clinic, Mitcham, 020 3458 5200
For further information about sexual health services, including HIV testing click here.
Picture courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program, with thanks