February 5-11 is HIV Testing Week. Lambeth is joining others to increase uptake of testing for HIV, promote its benefits, and highlight how residents can get a free and confidential test.
While new HIV diagnosis rates are falling, many people get tested too late, and there are still people living with HIV who are unaware of their status.
Free and confidential testing can help people get treatment and prevent passing the disease on to others.
How to get a free and confidential HIV test in Lambeth
Testing for HIV is free and confidential, and is widely available. You can order home test kits from Sexual Health London or attend a local sexual health clinic. You can also use the Find Sexual Health directory to search for clinics using your postcode.
If you’re having a blood test through your GP during HIV Testing Week, they’ll also test for HIV, unless you opt out. GP surgeries in Lambeth already offer newly registered patients aged 16+ an HIV test as a matter of routine. Do speak to your GP if you’re newly registered but haven’t yet been offered a test.
The benefits of knowing your HIV status
The sooner you know your HIV status, the sooner you can get treatment and support. This will help you stay healthy and avoid passing the virus on to anyone else. Most people will get a negative result, but whatever happens, it’s important to know that anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support.
Dr Ruth Harris, HIV GP Champion for Lambeth, said:
“HIV testing provides the opportunity to know your status and get on treatment quickly. People on effective HIV treatment can live a long and healthy life and cannot pass HIV on.
Whether you’re already having a routine blood test or wish to have an HIV test, you can speak to your GP practice about HIV testing. They can request an HIV test for you, and advise on local clinics, or how you can order a home test.
Increased testing will also take us a step closer to our aim of ending new HIV transmissions in London by 2030.”
Why this is important to Lambeth Together
Lambeth faces some of the greatest sexual health challenges in England. Levels of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in the borough are the highest in England. And although the rate of new HIV infections in London has decreased by over half in the last 10 years, there continue to be low levels of testing among women and heterosexual men in Lambeth. This contributes to late diagnosis in these groups.
We want to reduce the number of cases of sexually transmitted infections, in particular among people from populations who are disproportionately affected. Through our Lambeth Together Sexual Health Programme, we are working together across our borough, and with partners in Southwark and Lewisham, to achieve zero HIV-related stigma, zero HIV transmissions and zero HIV-related deaths.