People can now order free online home sampling kits to test for HIV in Wiltshire in a drive to encourage more people from at risk groups to test and understand if they have contracted the virus sooner.
Although Wiltshire has low rates of HIV compared to the England average, people are being encouraged to ensure they are tested as the sooner someone is diagnosed with HIV the sooner they can start treatment and enjoy a good quality of life, with a longer life expectancy. Earlier diagnosis could also help tackle the spread of HIV as people aware they have the virus take the necessary precautions as part of their lifestyle.
Now Wiltshire Council is working with Public Health England (PHE) to encourage at risk groups to go online and order a free home sampling kit from which they take a ‘finger prick’ sample before sending off for testing. Results are then provided via text, email or phone call depending on what the individual has asked for. Everyone receives a result in five working days.
The new campaign follows a successful two year drive where Wiltshire Council has promoted free online kits for Chlamydia testing for under 25’s
The drive to encourage at risk groups to be tested is taking place to coincide with World Aids Day on 1 December. The anniversary is an acknowledgement of those living with HIV and commemorating those who have died as well as raising awareness that HIV is a condition people can live with.
Maggie Rae, Wiltshire Council corporate director said: “HIV is a much more manageable condition today than it was 30 years ago however it’s really important that people who feel they may be at risk take the test as early as possible. The sooner someone knows they are living with the virus the sooner they can be treated and the long term effects minimised.”
Keith Humphries, cabinet member for public health and protection said: “I’d encourage people who have concerns to order this test online or visit their GP. HIV is no longer the death sentence of 30 years ago and people can live long, productive lives. However the message is clear – the sooner the diagnosis, the better chance you have to enjoy a good quality of life. We hope by making this process extremely simple people will take those first steps to have themselves checked.”
Commenting on the launch of the new service, Dr Anthony Nardone, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England said:
“We are delighted to work with so many local authorities on such an innovative project that for the first time will provide HIV home-sampling to the most at risk adult populations across England.
“It is anticipated that this approach will be of huge benefit to individuals and help tackle the high rates of HIV in this country.”
People can order the free HIV tests from www.freetesting.hiv