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Local campaign to improve HIV testing in Tower Hamlets

17This year’s HIV testing week,  set to be the largest event ever, is being backed by Amy Whitelock Gibbs, Councillor for Health and Adult Services in Tower Hamlets.
Tower Hamlets Council, which funds the local HIV Prevention projects provided by local charity, Positive East, is supporting National HIV Testing Week 2015, which runs from Saturday, November 21 to Saturday, November 28.
Around 100 people in Tower Hamlets are diagnosed with HIV each year.  However, evidence shows that there are many people who have HIV and do not know that they have the infection.  It is estimated there are around 400 people in the borough who have not been diagnosed. For these people, finding out they have HIV means they can access HIV treatment and care, and reduce the likelihood of passing on HIV.
Tower Hamlets Council is working with Terrence Higgins Trust, Positive East, and other partners to highlight the importance of regular testing and to let people know about services that offer testing and advice.
Speaking during a visit, earlier this week,  to see the Barts Sexual Health Outreach Bus at Asda Supermarket on the Isle of Dogs, Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs, said:
“Detecting HIV as early as possible is very important for successful treatment.
“Huge progress has been made over the last decade and people who are diagnosed promptly with HIV infection can expect to live long and healthy lives.
‘Knowing your HIV status is essential to having effective treatments – and to help prevent others being infected – so I would urge residents to take advantage of the many ways available to have an HIV test. All HIV tests are free and confidential.”
Dr Somen Banerjee, Director of Public Health in the borough, said:
“The best way for people to protect themselves and others from HIV remains using condoms, which also helps protect against other sexually transmitted infections.”
“Some groups and communities are more at risk of HIV than others and I would especially urge people from black communities and gay and bisexual men to test regularly every time they have a new sexual partner and at least once a year”.

Throughout National HIV Testing Week, special testing sessions have been arranged for anyone who wants an HIV test and for the first time people at risk of HIV can order a free test at www.test.hiv with easy to use test kits sent out in the post for return with the results available within a fortnight by text, phone or post.
Positive East will be providing a range of HIV testing sites throughout the week and you can get your result in minutes.