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Mayor and councillor get tested for National HIV Testing Week

Last updated: 09/02/2023

National HIV Testing Week has kicked off across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset with a focus on raising awareness about testing to tackle rates of undiagnosed HIV.

As part of National HIV Testing Week, Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees and Cllr Ellie King Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health and Communities have taken an HIV test to reduce stigma and encourage others to do the same.  

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities at Bristol City Council said: "The test was so quick and easy, it was just a simple finger prick and I got my result in less than 15 minutes. You can live with HIV without symptoms for years without knowing and testing is the only way to find out your HIV status. Treatment for HIV is fantastic and getting treated early stops you becoming ill, meaning you can have the same life expectancy as those without HIV. Please help us to end new cases of HIV by 2030 by getting tested and encouraging your friends and family to test."

Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, will deliver testing across the areas which are listed below.

HIV testing walk-ins:

  • Monday 6 Feb in Bristol, East Trees Health Centre – 30am – 3pm 
  • Tuesday 7 Feb in Bristol, UWE Bower Ashton Campus – 12pm – 4pm
  • Wednesday 8 in North Somerset, Healthy Living for all Centre – 4pm – 6pm
  • Thursday 9 in Bristol, East Trees Health Centre – 9.30am – 3pm
  • Thursday 9 in South Gloucestershire, Coniston Community Centre – 5pm-8pm – 8pm
  • Monday 13 Feb in South Gloucestershire, Ridgwood Community Centre – 5pm – 7.30pm
  • Tuesday 14 Feb in Bristol, UWE Frenchay Campus – 11am – 3pm

In Bristol, the rate of new HIV diagnoses was 2.46 per 1,000 population aged 15-59 years (compared to 2.34/1,000 in England). 

Additionally, in 2021 over half (58%) of people who were diagnosed with HIV in Bristol were diagnosed at a late stage, meaning damage to the immune system has already begun. This was significantly above the average across the country – 43% of new HIV diagnoses across England were at a late stage.

Testing for HIV puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will stop you from getting ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan and prevent you from passing the virus on to anyone else.

National HIV Testing Week, which runs from Monday 6 to Sunday 12 February, is coordinated by Terrence Higgins Trust on behalf of the Department of Health & Social Care.  

The week encourages people to test for HIV, particularly those from the groups most affected by HIV, including gay and bisexual men and black African men and women.

Kate Lemon, Service Manager in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “This National HIV Testing Week we’re encouraging people to quickly and easily get tested by offering easy access to testing.”

“People now have a great choice of options – they can see us in person during the week for a test, pick up a free test at one of our new STI vending machines we have across the area, or order an online test.”

“Getting tested regularly should be something we’re all doing in order to protect ourselves. Testing for HIV is quick and easy. If your results come back positive, we can offer all the support, advice and information you need.”

“People living with HIV and on effective treatment can not only live long fulfilled lives after, but they also can’t pass on the virus to others. Effective HIV treatment works by reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels. This means that the levels of HIV become so low that the virus cannot be passed on.”

“Testing is nothing to be feared or embarrassed about. There is nothing embarrassing about making sure your sexual health is a priority.”

In Bristol, Terrence Higgins Trust works with Unity Sexual Health to provide the services commissioned by Bristol City Council. Together they provide sexual health advice, testing and treatment across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire for all STIs including HIV and the provision of contraception services. The HIV prevention programme includes support for people living with HIV, training, and awareness campaigns.

Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillor Ellie King and standing with the team from Unity Sexual Health

Follow Unity Sexual Health on:  

Facebook – Unity Sexual Health

Twitter @Unitysexhealth

Instagram  @Unitysexhealth

For more information about National HIV Testing Week, go to: startswithme.org.uk