European Testing Week 2017 for HIV and Hepatitis C kicks off this week
Organisations in Limerick city are uniting with the rest of Europe to take part in European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week 2017, to increase awareness of the benefits of HIV and Hepatitis C testing and encourage more people to become aware of their HIV and Hepatitis C status
Between Friday, November 17 and Friday, November 24, GOSHH (Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health and HIV) is coordinating a united response with organisations in Limerick, Tipperary, and Clare to promote HIV and Hepatitis C testing and encourage people to become aware of their HIV and Hepatitis C status.
Testing week is now in its fifth year and the theme for Testing Week 2017 is Test. Treat. Prevent. The aim this year is to increase positive talk about the benefits of testing for HIV and Hepatitis. It’s important that people at risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis know their status as soon as possible. Today, treatment advances mean that people living with HIV can live healthily for a long time if they are diagnosed early, and people living with Hepatitis C can be completely cured.
It is estimated that approximately 30% of the 8,000 people living with HIV in Ireland are unaware that they are HIV positive, and approximately 40% of the 20–30,000 people estimated to be living with Hepatitis C are unaware of their status. That means that there are an estimated 28-38,000 people living in Ireland without access to proper medications that can make a definite difference in their lives.
European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week 2017 is coordinated by HIV in Europe but relies on participating organisations across Europe, including GOSHH, to organise local activities ensuring they are targeted at those who are at a higher risk of HIV and Hepatitis.
This year GOSHH has increased the number of agencies participating in Testing Week, which means they are able to provide educational workshops in targeted agencies and community based Rapid HIV and Rapid Hep C testing throughout the week. We have support on hand for all reactive cases and have close links with doctors, clinics, and consultants to ensure everyone has immediate access to all the follow-on tests and medication they may need.
Ann Mason, Manager of GOSHH explained how important it is for people to know their HIV status: “These days HIV is a treatable infection and the sooner someone living with HIV accesses treatment, the sooner the medication will reduce their viral load to undetectable. It is also important to encourage people to openly discuss their HIV status with their sexual partner(s).”
“A key focus for European HIV and Hepatitis Testing Week is to encourage more healthcare professionals, outside of a sexual health setting, to offer tests. Research has shown that 95% of people will accept a test when offered one. One of our goals will be that everybody living in the Mid-West will get to know their HIV status and be aware of sexual health services within their locality.”
Susan, who has received the new treatment for Hep C and is now cured, says “In 2012 I was hospitalised with bleeding oesophageal varices & liver cirrhosis. After a few months I was doing better but was then diagnosed with Hep C. I knew nothing about Hepatitis so I thought this was a death sentence; four years later and I’m still here. In March 2015 I finished a three-month course of the new Hepatitis C treatment (Sovaldi) and I have been clear of the virus ever since. Hopefully, everyone living with Hepatitis will also get this cure”.
Ann Mason added: “We would encourage as many people as possible to come along to one of the various locations and give just 1 minute to update their HIV status or learn about HIV and Hepatitis C testing.”
GOSHH is willing to bring Rapid HIV and Hep C Testing to all venues so if you own a tattoo parlour, a factory, an office, or work in a voluntary or statutory agency and would like to know more about testing in your venue please contact us. To find out more about the European HIV-Hepatitis testing week visit www.testingweek.eu or to find out more information about tests being provided by GOSHH follow us on Facebook & Twitter, ring 061 314354, email [email protected] or visit www.goshh.ie/test.
To find out more about GOSHH click here
To read our story on last year’s Testing week click here
To find out more about Testing Week 2017 click here