By Dr Fiona Schneider

Take the testWe enjoy our role in caring for the community on many levels and during National HIV awareness week we want to offer more tests for this infection. Why?

There was a time when carrying the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) used to be a very heavy sentence, with a high likelihood of the infected person developing AIDS. Until a few years ago, treatments were in early experimental stages and not very effective. Fortunately all of this has changed now.

If HIV is detected early enough, treatment can begin soon and be successful in keeping AIDS away. People infected with HIV can now live normal life and active lives, although they need to take their medicines daily and go for regular check-ups. This is why it is important to have the test – at least once a year if you belong to a high-risk group. Specialist teams of nurses and doctors across the Wakefield District will help you get timely and quality treatment.

We think it is also important to avoid getting HIV. Prevention is always better than cure, and not needing tablets is much better than needing tablets. But if you do pick up the virus it is really important to find out as soon as possible.

We are pleased that we are able to offer you a test for HIV and share the results with you very quickly. Testing for HIV is a simple, we take a sample of your blood and results can be back in a very short space of time. The highest standards of confidentiality operate across Spectrum and our partner organisations. We only share information with professionals who need to know, so they can care for you better.

If your test is negative you will be given information about how to stay safe and reduce the risk of picking up the virus. You may need to come back for a second test if the risk of picking up HIV was very close to the time of the first test. We want our service users to remain free from HIV and it is important that everyone knows if they have the virus or not.

So during National HIV Testing Week 2016, make sure that you Take the Test.