Special HIV testing sessions to help stop spread of infection

Special report from The Leicester Mercury:

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Special HIV testing sessions are being set up in bid to persuade people at risk of the infection to be tested.

Latest figures estimate that are 1,250 people living with HIV in Leicester and Leicester.

Celia Fisher, from Lass – Leicestershire AIDS Support Services, said: “It is estimated that one in five of these have remain undiagnosed and are therefore more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly.

“Our aim is to increase the uptake of HIV both within African communities and other communities in Leicester.

“Our experience shows that by making testing more accessible in different social and community venues it has become more acceptable to people and we always have a queue.”

The extra sessions also mark the third annual National HIV Testing week which runs until Sunday (Nov 30).

Lass, a charity set up in 1987 to provides services for people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland affected by HIV and AIDS, already provides rapid testing each weekday from 9.30am-4.30pm at its base in REgent Road, Leicester.

Over the next week it will be holding extra sessions.

These include opening from 9.30am-12noon on Saturday (Nov 29) and at the Oxygen Night Club, Wharf Street from 5-8pm the same day.

Ms fisher HIV awareness co-ordinator at Lass, said: “This is an ideal opportunity for people who do not have time during the week to come along.

“We are also offering couples testing on both days – so people can come and get tested together and share their results.

We will be offering HIV Testing at Club Oxygen on Wharf Street on Saturday 29th November from 5 – 8pm.

Weekday testing is available every day at LASS from 9.30 – 4.30 – so you can drop in anytime if that suits you.

Ms Fisher said: “It is important that people who think they may be at risk from HIV are tested as soon as possible.

“The virus replicates at its fastest rate in the very early stages and is very infectious and so it spreads much more easily.”

She added: “Recent publicity has been very focused on the African community but in Leicester every community has people living with HIV.

“With the rapid testing we provide people can get the results straight away and they are with trained people who offer support to them.”

For those whose tests to prove positive there is help at hand.

Ms Fisher said: “People are living long and with the current medications the amount of virus can be very much reduced – not to zero but very low.”

For more information on National HIV Testing week events in Leicester contact Celia Fisher by e mailing celia@lass.org.uk or go to http://www.lass.org.uk

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