London's leading provider of community HIV prevention and support services, METRO, has welcomed reports that the Department of Health intends to legalise HIV home testing kits.
The announcement follows Health Protection Agency reports of a record number of people in the UK living with HIV, and growing concern about late diagnosis. It also follows extensive lobbying on the issue and recent pilots of home testing.
Dr Greg Ussher, METRO Acting CEO said:
As a community based testing agency, METRO has always advocated for a wide menu of options for testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Late diagnosis of HIV is a significant problem and with a quarter of people living with HIV in the UK unaware that they are infected, we need to take action to reach out to those reluctant to test. Rates of new HIV diagnoses and HIV prevalence continue to be significantly higher in London than elsewhere in the UK. We know from our work on the ground how important it is to reach into communities to support those most at risk to encourage testing, to raise awareness and promote positive sexual health.
METRO provides a number of HIV testing entry points including our Pitstop clinics for gay and bisexual men and ATOM clinics for African people, clinics within GP surgeries, mobile testing buses and testing at events, testing in saunas, pharmacy testing, testing at home and in other community settings. We work with a number of partners across London and beyond providing wide choices to improve access. This week we are delighted to be working with Greenwich Sexual Health to launch the innovative STI Home testing programme for all adult Greenwich residents to test at home with support for Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C.
Contact: Patricia Durr, Head of Policy, Communications & FR, email@example.com, 020 8305 5000 x.136 07912515397
The Greenwich Home STI Testing Programme for Greenwich residents is now live and can be accessed at www.greenwichsexualhealth.org/home_sti_kits/
The Health Protection Agency HIV in the UK report estimates 96,000 (90,800-102,500) people were living with HIV in the UK by the end of 2011, an increase from 91,500 (85,400-99,000) in 2010. The overall prevalence in 2011 was 1.5 per 1,000 population with the highest rates reported among men who have sex with men (MSM) (47 per 1,000) and the black African community (37 per 1,000). 24% (19%-28%) of people living with HIV were unaware of the fact.
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During the 6 month programme, I developed a close relationship with my mentor. Knowing that I would have to talk to him honestly about what I did in the previous 2 weeks somehow forced me to be safe every time I had an encounter.
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By discussing things at such an intimate level with my mentor, I really came face to face with some of the reasons why I was taking chances before.
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