Norfolk health chiefs back new HIV home testing kit

Health
Health

Public health officials in Norfolk have given their backing to a new HIV home testing kit which is being launched across the country.

Norfolk County Council staff visited Lynn yesterday to promote the initiative, as part of National HIV Testing Week.

And they will be in Fakenham’s Flea Market tomorrow, between 10am and 2pm.

The campaign aims to encourage people who are at greater risk of contracting the virus, which causes AIDS, to test themselves.

The equipment requires a finger prick blood sample for analysis. Results are given by text or phone through a trained advisor if positive.

Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “The introduction of the sampling test kits means it’s much easier for people to get themselves tested anonymously and in their own homes if they are concerned.

“If you think you have any risk of HIV infection it’s best to get tested and better to start treatment before you become unwell.

“We are concerned at the number of people who only find they have HIV after they have become unwell as this can make treating their HIV infection more difficult. Anyone who requests a kit can have a test; it gets sent straight to your home.

“Great strides in HIV treatment have been made as well as reducing the stigma surrounding the virus.

“However, we know there are still communities who are risking their own health and the health of others.

“Recent research has shown that in Norfolk a growing number of people over 50 are having unprotected sex. We hope the introduction of the home testing kit will be the encouragement they need to get tested.”

Test kits can be ordered online at www.freetesting.hiv, while people can also visit an iCaSH (integrated Contraception and Sexual Health service) centre anonymously.

Further details can be found at www.icash.nhs.uk.