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Harrow becomes first area in England to offer HIV home testing kits

Harrow Council has teamed up with charity Terrance Higgins Trust to offer people the chance to test for HIV in their own homes

Harrow has become one of the first councils in the country to offer residents home testing HIV kits as part of a new initiative to help people diagnose the condition early.

In a collaboration with HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, the council is leading the way in home testing for the condition. It involves sending out home kits, which require a small sample of blood from a finger prick, which are then sent off in a pre-paid envelope for testing.

Packs can be ordered online to a chosen address in the borough from the charity's website and are for high-risk groups such as gay men and bisexual and heterosexual men and women from Black African origins.

Residents who are outside of the at risk groups can still take advantage of free testing.

Councillor for public health Varsha Parmar said: “In Harrow, we only have a small number of people who are diagnosed with HIV, but it is still important for risk groups to be checked regularly.

"I am delighted that Harrow is the first council in England to provide these kits."

She added: "These tests are a discreet way for people who are sexually active to find out if they are HIV positive and prevent transmitting the infection further.”

HIV is a treatable condition and if spotted early, is no longer a terminal illness.

If diagnosed in the later stages, however, treatment is less effective and the risk of death is greatly increased.

Head of health improvement programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, Cary James, said: “Postal HIV tests are a great way to make it even easier to test for HIV.

"For a third of the people who have ordered a kit, this was the first time they have tested for HIV.

"It is great to see Harrow taking such leadership in providing such an innovative service to support the sexual health of its residents”.

Information on what services are available and where, can be found on the Harrow Council website.

The announcement coincides with the launch of a new awareness campaign called Do it London, which aims to encourage regular testing for HIV and promote safe sex.

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