For World AIDS Day on Saturday 1st December Cumbria Sexual health services are urging people to take a very simple finger prick test to check for the virus.
A number of pharmacies across the county now offer the service which was made possible through a partnership between Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, OutREACH Cumbria, the Local Pharmacy Committee and the County Council.
Ben Vollans, Manager of Outreach Cumbria, said: “Cumbria has one of the highest rates of late diagnosis in the country and we hope to improve that by giving people access to a service they would normally shy away from. These people are most at risk and may be scared off at the idea they may have to visit the local sexual health clinic and be seen. The rationale for using a pharmacy is that you could be going to talk about absolutely anything so no one will know why you are there.”
Matt Phillips, Clinical Director for Cumbria sexual health service said: “HIV testing is crucial. It identifies those who are undiagnosed, avoids late diagnoses, and enables people to start effective treatment immediately, preventing potential illness, and protecting their sexual partners from HIV infection.
“We estimate that 1 in 8 people do not know that they have HIV but if you get an early diagnosis then your life expectancy is normal, the later the diagnosis the more complicated the treatment can be.”
Getting tested at one of the pharmacies which offer the finger prick test is a great opportunity for anyone with concerns to attend for a quick, free, discreet HIV test. The test is done is a consultation room and as pharmacies offer such a wide range of services in pharmacies no one will know why you are there. It is very private.
Other pharmacies will also be able to offer you advice and let you know about your nearest sexual health clinic
If you are concerned about any aspect of your sexual health then you can make an appointment in complete confidence at your nearest Sexual Health Service.
Sexual health treatment and advice in Cumbria is provided in a variety of settings across the county including Sexual Health Clinics(combined GUM and Contraceptive services), GP surgeries and community pharmacies.