News Article

National HIV Testing Week

UCASU Advice and Wellbeing Coordinator, Nika Bacac, introduces you to National HIV Testing Week, including how to access sexual health advice and services.

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Hello everyone, it's Nika Bacac, your advice & wellbeing coordinator! February is approaching and with it England's National HIV Testing Week, which starts Monday 6 February 2023.

Some facts about HIV testing

Did you know that around 1 in 16 people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have the virus1? People can live a long time with HIV without any symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to test yourself. This is important, as diagnosing late is correlated with poor long-term health outcomes2.

Surrey and Kent are low-prevalence areas for HIV, but that does not mean that we should be complacent about knowing what our HIV status is.

HIV facts for Surrey3

  • Across Surrey, 96% of residents diagnosed as living with HIV have an ‘undetectable’ viral load (or, in other words, are virally suppressed). This means they are on an effective treatment regime and are unable to transmit the virus to anyone else

  • Most new HIV diagnoses in Surrey residents were classed as ‘late diagnosis’. This indicates that damage to the individual's immune system has already taken place and that there are likely to have been missed opportunities to diagnose the person earlier

  • 55% of Surrey residents living with HIV are White, and 28% are of Black African ethnicity

  • 50% of Surrey residents living with HIV contracted the virus through heterosexual sexual contact and 42% through MSM sexual contact

More Surrey-specific visual data available on HIV-lens.
 

HIV facts for Kent4

  • The prevalence rate for Kent's residents living with diagnosed HIV per 1,000, aged 15-59, was 1.41 per 1000 people in 2021

  • 97% of Kent residents living with HIV are virally suppressed

  • Similar to Surrey, most new HIV diagnoses in Kent – around 49% – were classed as ‘late diagnosis’

More Kent-specific visual data available on HIV-lens.
 

National HIV week at UCA campuses

This is why this year UCASU invited Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) and Metro Charity to promote regular HIV testing of UCA students. These organisations provide sexual health services in Surrey and Kent. They will be attending our Epsom, Farnham, and Canterbury campuses to let you know all about the services they provide. You will be able to meet their wonderful Outreach teams who will be equipped to give you advice and information not just on HIV-related matters, but also on other STIs and sexual health in general. The dates, times, and locations of the visit are:

  • Epsom – 6th February 2023.
    Location: Canteen
    Time: 11.30 am – 1.30 pm

  • Farnham – 9th February 2023.
    Location: Library, ground floor
    Time: 11.30 am – 1.30 pm

  • Canterbury – 10th February 2023.
    Location: Main reception
    Time: 11.30 am – 1.30 pm

Come and talk to the team about how you can get tested! Along with promoting their services, the team will be giving out freebies such as condoms ??. I will also be there to sign you up for our condom scheme if you’d like to have access to free condoms regularly (c-card for Surrey, get it for Kent). 

Please also check out the campaign’s website, which has a lot of useful information regarding testing for STIs - https://www.startswithme.org.uk/

#HIVTestingWeek #ITEST #SexualHealth

 

 

 

1Living with HIV. (2023, January 23). National AIDS Trust.
https://www.nat.org.uk/about-hiv/hiv-statistics
2Get ready for National HIV Testing Week 2023. (2023, January 23). HIV Prevention England.
https://www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/2023/01/09/get-ready-for-national-hiv-testing-week-2023/
3Data provided by the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (2023, January 19).
https://www.cnwl.nhs.uk/ 
4Data provided by HIV Lens (2023, January 23).
https://www.hiv-lens.org/ 

 

 

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