Wirral Council supports National HIV Testing Week with testing locations across the borough

National HIV Testing Week gets underway next week (5 – 11 February) and residents are being urged to get tested to know their status.

Wirral Council is supporting Sahir House, Sexual Health Wirral, community groups and businesses to encourage people across Wirral to get tested and to consider regular testing for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) as a standard part of their routine health checks.

Councillor Janette Williamson, Chair of Wirral Council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said: “Testing is free and confidential and it’s the only way to know if you have HIV or not, as people can have HIV for a long time without any symptoms.

“Although most people will get a negative result, testing positive means that you can get treatment sooner and avoid passing it on to anybody else.”

Now in its 10th year, National HIV Testing Week provides a useful reminder that testing plays an important role in the prevention and management of HIV.

The CEO of Sahir House, Ant Hopkinson, said, “As we unite for National HIV Testing Week, our focus is on making HIV testing easy and accessible. With advancements like finger prick and oral swab tests, individuals can now get reliable results within minutes.

“By embracing these user-friendly testing methods, we empower our community to take charge of their sexual health with convenience and efficiency. This campaign is a reminder that testing has never been more straightforward, reinforcing the idea that everyone can easily incorporate it into their regular health routine.”

A key message in this year’s campaign is that U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable), which illustrates that people with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load through effective treatment, cannot transmit the virus to their partners.

As well as encouraging regular testing for everyone, public health partners want individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting HIV to consider taking the preventative medication commonly known as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). PrEP provides an extra layer of protection and significantly reduces the chances of HIV infection. Regular testing and PrEP medication are key to reaching the national goal of zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.

A range of drop-in events and activities will take place in Wirral during National HIV Testing Week. They include, educational workshops, outreach activities, and confidential testing services at:

Every day during HIV National Testing Week

St Catherine’s Health Centre, Derby Road, Birkenhead, CH42 0LQ
Wirral Sexual Health Clinic: Drop-In Testing, Information & Advice
10:00 – 12:00
Wirral Sexual Health Clinic will be open each morning for anyone interested in getting an HIV test. Clinicians and nursing staff will be on hand to answer any queries that visitors might have around their sexual health. All testing is free, private and confidential.

Monday 5 February

Testing & Information Pop-Up at Townhouse Members Club, Tranmere
10:30 – 14:00
A private and confidential HIV testing and sexual health information event for the patrons of Townhouse Members Club.

Tuesday 6 February

Wirral YMCA, 56 Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead, CH41 2TJ
Testing & Information Pop-Up event
10:30 – 12:00
Wirral Sexual Health, Sahir House, Wirral Ways and Wirral Health Protection Service will be providing: Free and confidential rapid HIV point-of-care testing and HIV self-test kits for home use, HIV prevention information, STI screening, and health protection information to people residing in Wirral YMCA.

Victoria Health Centre, Wirral Sexual Health Clinic, Mill Lane, Wallasey, CH44 5UF
National HIV Testing Week Drop-In
17:00 – 18:15
Wirral Sexual Health will offer their usual service including STI testing and for National HIV Testing Week will host Sahir House who will be providing free and confidential rapid HIV point-of-care testing and HIV prevention information to members of the public.

Wirral Ways, 84 Market Street, Birkenhead, CH41 6HB
18:30 – 19:45
Change Grow Live: Health Huddle
Change Grow Live will host Sahir and Wirral Sexual Health at their weekly ‘Health Huddle’ which provides needle exchange services, blood-borne virus screening, pregnancy testing and more to those who identify as female. Sahir House and Wirral Sexual Health will be on hand to provide free and confidential HIV point-of-care testing, STI screening and information about HIV prevention tools PEP and PrEP.

Wednesday 7 February

Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, Beckwith St East, Birkenhead, CH41 3JE
National HIV Testing Week Event
12:00 – 14:00
Tomorrow’s Women Wirral is a charity for women, run by women, offering support with a range of issues including domestic abuse, mental health, substance misuse, wellbeing & confidence, and social isolation. Sahir House and Wirral Sexual Health will be visiting Tomorrow’s Women to provide free and confidential HIV point-of-care testing, STI screening and information about HIV prevention tools PEP and PrEP.

Sahir House, The Bodyline Clinic, 124 Chester St, Birkenhead, CH41 5DL
HIV Testing Bookable Drop-In
17:00 – 20:00
Sahir House’s non-clinical setting HIV and STI testing service will be open to provide HIV testing, STI screening and information about HIV prevention tools PEP and PrEP

Free Postal Test Kits
If you don’t have any symptoms, live in Wirral, and are aged 16 plus, it may be easier for you to test from home. This year-round service from Sexual Health Wirral offers provides a discreet test kit in the post, you take a sample yourself and then send it off to a lab who will then contact you by text message to your mobile with your results. For more information visit: https://www.sexualhealthwirral.nhs.uk/stis/free-postal-test-kits/

Other testing opportunities

Sahir House can arrange free and confidential HIV testing at their headquarters at 4th Floor, LCVS Building, 151 Dale Street, L2 2AH. They can also provide HIV self-testing kits for home use or help people to book an appointment with a local sexual health clinic.

They run a testing clinic in Birkenhead every Wednesday, offering free and confidential appointments for HIV/STI testing.

To speak to the Wirral HIV Prevention Lead, Kath, call 0151 673 1912 or email hivtesting@sahir.uk.com

Image: A BBV (blood-borne virus) test being carried out at Wirral Ways. Credit: Wirral Ways

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