Gay venues in Bradford have been thanked for hosting HIV testing events as part of National HIV Testing Week and World Aids Day.
Yorkshire MESMAC, one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country, said the venues had helped it to spread its services wider than ever before in the Bradford community.
The registered charity has a focus on HIV prevention and sexual health promotion with gay and bisexual men, and during the awareness week it offered testing services at two Bradford gay venues and also daytime, evening and weekend testing sessions in the Bradford office.
Latest figures show there are 5,025 people living with HIV in Yorkshire and the Humber and a quarter of these people are undiagnosed and therefore at risk of serious health problems.
Someone who is diagnosed late, after the point at which they should have started treatment, is ten times more likely to die within a year of receiving their diagnosis than someone who tests in good time.
In addition, undiagnosed HIV is a key factor in driving up the UK’s HIV numbers, with the majority of onward transmission coming from those who are unaware they have an infection.
Testing has never been easier and more accessible and the treatments for people living with HIV have never been so effective. Yorkshire MESMAC advocates people taking the test and taking control.
One service user at a testing session in a bar in Bradford said: “I’ve actually been worried about it for ages, but got very good at putting it off. Because the offer was there right in front of me I decided to just do it and thankfully I got the result I wanted. I wish I had done it a long time ago.”
A spokesman for Yorkshire MESMAC said the charity was looking forward to planning and delivering more similar events in Bradford in 2013 and taking testing further into the community.
For a fast, free and confidential HIV test in the Bradford area contact MESMAC on (01274) 395815 or e-mail: Bradford@mesmac.co.uk