Each year around 6,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with HIV but it is thought that there are almost 26,000 people with HIV who do not know that they have it.
Evidence shows that the earlier HIV is diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be, resulting in a better quality of life for the individual. Like many other London boroughs, Ealing has a high prevalence of HIV and there is still concern that 33.8 percent of cases diagnosed amongst residents are late (compared to 42.2 percent in the UK).
Last week Ealing Council supported National HIV Testing Week by offering free tests at a range of venues including libraries.
Free HIV testing is also available throughout the year at a number of sites, including Ealing, Central Middlesex and Northwick Park Hospitals, sexual health clinics and other organisations. For details visit the NHS Choices website for services and information. People who would prefer to self-test for HIV in their own home can also do so using a free kit from the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Cabinet member for health and adult services, Councillor Hitesh Tailor said: “World Aids Day is a reminder of the impact that HIV and AIDS can have on our lives. As a council we are supporting the Do It London campaign and have signed up to the Halve It campaign to reduce the numbers of people being diagnosed with HIV at a late stage. The recent decision by the High Court meaning the NHS can fund PrEP is one we supported and I fully support our work to encourage people across all communities to test regularly.”
The NHS is now considering the possible future use of HIV prevention drug PrEP, but it is not currently available.
Dr Nigel O’Farrell, consultant physician in HIV and genito-urinary medicine at London Northwest Healthcare Trust, Ealing Hospital (LNWHT) said: “The earlier patients start on treatment the better the outcomes, but first of all they have to be diagnosed which means getting tested. Those that delay testing until they get sick may still develop severe HIV-related complications. HIV drugs have got a lot easier to take over the years and enable people on treatment to lead a fulfilling life and develop their true potential.”