As part of National HIV Testing Awareness Week, Kent residents are being urged to ‘Give HIV the finger: a finger-prick test is all it takes’ by clicking quickly and easily online for home testing kits.
Latest figures show the prevalence of HIV in people aged 15 to 59-years-old in Kent is lower than the national average, although the numbers of people being diagnosed late when they have the condition – increasing the risk to others and possibly affecting the success of treatment – is a major concern as almost six in 10 people in Kent who were diagnosed with HIV in 2016/18 received a late diagnosis.*
The national campaign features celebrities and influencers promoting ‘Give HIV the finger: a finger-prick test is all it takes’. KCC is encouraging those at higher risk of HIV, to request a home sampling kit now at www.kent.gov.uk/HIVtest – This involves a person taking a simple finger prick blood test which is then sent to a laboratory for results within five working days. Subsequent support is available within a confidential clinical service.
Kent County Council Public Health Director, Andrew Scott-Clark said it is vital to reinforce the importance of early testing: “People who have HIV but don’t realise it face a major health risk as delays in starting treatment may affect the outcome of treatment, as well as being a risk to other people being exposed to the virus.
“Despite high levels of HIV testing in the integrated sexual health services and through the online STI testing service, levels of HIV testing remain too low in most at-risk populations, and there is a need for innovative approaches to improve uptake of HIV tests. Testing is not just good for the individual, it’s good for the whole community.”
For more information on the home testing kits and services available in Kent, go to www.kent.gov.uk/HIVtest
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust will be carrying out sexual health roadshows across Kent. For more information, go to https://www.kentcht.nhs.uk/2019/11/13/world-aids-day-2/
Note to newsdesks:
* Figures for 2018 show the prevalence of HIV per 1,000 people aged 15 to 59-years in Kent was 1.34 (which is lower than the national rate of 2.37).
In 2016/18, diagnosis of HIV late in the stage of disease occurred in 42% of people newly diagnosed in England but was higher in Kent at 59%. In 2018, the new HIV diagnosis rate per 100,000 people aged 15 and above in Kent was 4.4 (lower than the England average rate of 8.7).