OXFORDSHIRE residents are being reminded that HIV testing is now easier than ever for anybody to access.

People can now get tested by ordering a home testing kit with results being sent by text.

Tests can be ordered by going to the Free Testing Website at freetesting.hiv.

During the national HIV testing week, between February 1 and February 7, 825 HIV tests were delivered to Oxfordshire residents alone. This was three times more than the usual amount.

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Residents, regardless of sexuality, should get tested regularly if they change partners, or have been practising unsafe sex.

Dr Shakiba Habibula, consultant in public health at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Since HIV was first detected, medical advances have meant that most people can live long, happy, healthy lives with a diagnosis, provided that they get that diagnosis as early as possible.

“If you are worried, please do not put off testing. With the advances in treatment, being diagnosed with HIV means you can still live a healthy life with proper treatment.

Early diagnosis

"The earlier you are diagnosed with HIV and start treatment, the better the outcome for your health.

“Always remember that using a condom is still one of the most effective ways of not contracting HIV or any sexually transmitted infection (STI).”

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There are still 101,000 people living with HIV in the UK and 497 of these are in Oxfordshire.

People still face ignorance and discrimination that can limit their opportunities.

Although the HIV epidemic is slowing in the UK, nearly half of people who test positive are finding out they have HIV very late, meaning the virus may have damaged their health permanently.

Public Health England data shows that out of 32 people aged 15 and over who tested positive for HIV in Oxfordshire a total of 11 were diagnosed late between 2017 and 2019.

There is also medication available that can now help to prevent the spread of HIV. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) medication can also help to prevent the spread of HIV.

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It can be taken by someone who is likely to be exposed to the virus if they had sex. If they did come into contact with HIV, PrEP would prevent the virus from infecting that person

Anybody of any gender or sexuality can take PrEP; some may find it useful to take it every day whereas others will take it for specific occasions. It can be accessed from sexual health clinics

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is medication available for those who are HIV negative but may have recently come into contact with the virus. When taken within 72 hours, it can stop HIV if it has entered the body.

It is available from local A&E’s and sexual health clinics. A clinician can access somebody’s suitability on a case by case basis.

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