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Over 50's in Lincolnshire urged to test for HIV

By HGilbey_LE  |  Posted: November 26, 2013

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Local NHS support services say they are seeing increasing numbers of people testing as HIV positive in Lincolnshire.

However local support charity Positive Health says over 50’s have made up more than half of referrals so far this year for help dealing with the diagnosis.

Health services across the county are now urging anyone older then 50 to get tested if they are not sure of the sexual history of any partners.

The awareness drive is part of National HIV Testing Week.

Jo Burgwin from HIV support charity Positive Health in Lincolnshire, said: “We are seeing more and more referrals for HIV support coming forward in the over 50 category.

“In fact, more than half of the referrals so far this year were in this age category.

“People are often really shocked when they find out they have HIV, because they think it’s a death sentence, but early diagnosis of HIV enables better treatment outcomes and reduces the risk of onward transmission.

“If diagnosed early and with treatment options available people who are HIV positive are able live a normal life span.

“Our advice is always have an HIV test if you think you may have been at risk.

“There is a lot of support for people in Lincolnshire who test positive - you don’t have to be alone.”

Diana Swift, HIV clinical nurse specialist at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “No one is immune to HIV and in Lincolnshire we are experiencing an increase in the number of people being diagnosed HIV positive.

“Unfortunately, there is still an issue with the stigma associated with HIV and we feel it is a major barrier to people coming forward for testing.

”People still have a very vivid image of the tombstone campaign from the 1980s and still relate HIV to death.

“HIV care has dramatically improved over the years, changing the impact the virus can have on peoples’ lives.

“It is now seen as a chronic long-term health condition, and while there is not yet an effective vaccine, it can be managed and, in most cases, controlled.

“If tested and diagnosed early, there is no reason why a person cannot go on to live a normal lifespan.

"Anyone who is sexually active needs to remember a person’s HIV status is only as accurate as their last test.”

During National HIV Testing Week, which takes place from November 22-29, people are urged to get tested.

A HIV test can be done through a blood sample taken by a GP or at a sexual health clinic.

Home self-testing kits are also available from the Terence Higgins Trust.

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