New Clinic’s Advice On HIV Testing

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An estimated 86,500 adults are living with HIV in the UK, according to figures from 2009, but up to a quarter of those people haven’t been diagnosed, which means they don’t know they’re infected and this is one of the main reasons why a new clinic has opened in Corby this month.

The Knowledge Clinic, which is free and confidential, launched last week at Great Oakley Medical Centre in Corby.  The clinic is the result of a partnership between health and voluntary services and is being run by local voluntary organisation, Sunrise for two hours every Monday afternoon, from 12.30pm.

Dr Joanne Watt, a GP from Great Oakley Medical Centre, who has instigated the project, said: “I started looking into this because I have been a GP and sexual health doctor for eight years and we have had a sexual health clinic here for the last three years, so it seemed like a natural progression.

“I knew someone from LASS, the Leicester Aids Support Service [sic], and I was aware that they had been offering a drop-in clinic for HIV testing for a couple of years, and I just thought it would be good to bring it to Corby.

“For Northamptonshire, up to four in every 1,000 will be HIV positive, with some areas being higher or lower than others.  There is a slightly higher prevalence in Corby compared to the rest of the county, so we thought it was a good place to start the pilot scheme.”

HIV is short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and it attacks a person’s immune system.  A healthy immune system provides a natural defence against disease and infection.  If the immune system is damaged by HIV, it increases the risk of developing a serious infection or disease, such as cancer.

HIV is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids. This most commonly happens during unprotected sexual contact, such as vaginal, oral and anal sex. People who inject illegal drugs and share needles are also at risk of catching HIV. The condition can also be spread from a mother to her unborn child.

Dr Watt said: “It can be unprotected sex between men and women or men and men but it can be many years before anyone has any symptoms of HIV.”

“One in three people with HIV do not know that they have it, so anyone who has ever had unprotected sex should have a test, as people look completely normal until it’s very advanced and so there is no way of being able to tell before it gets to that stage.”

The HIV test available at the Knowledge Clinic involves just a simple finger-prick blood test, the results of which can be seen within minutes.

Dr Watt said: “It’s like a pregnancy test in the sense that the results appear before your eyes.  if the result comes back as reactive, the person will be seen that day at the sexual health clinic within the surgery, where they will have the second test to confirm it”.

“The finger-prick test is a new technology for the test, and so we will always check it against the more traditional test carried out at the sexual health clinic, but it’s still very reliable and is being used more widely.

“It’s completely confidential – the information won’t go on your medical records or anything – and if people want to just come along and find out more about HIV and the test before they actually have it, that’s absolutely fine, too; we will see anyone.

“People don’t need to be referred by their GP, and the clinic isn’t just there for Corby residents.anyone from the county can come along and have the test if they wish.  Our aim is to just make sure as many people know their HIV status as possible, because if they know their status, they can stay well. it’s all about having the knowledge”.

“If someone finds that they have HIV, as long as they take their medication, they can stay well, but if they don’t know they have it, that’s when they get poorly, and for how simple the test is, it’s really not worth that risk.”

The Knowledge Clinic is open at Great Oakley Medical Centre every Monday, between 12.30pm and 2.30pm. No appointment is needed

LASS also offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test.  We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories.  The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies.

Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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