With the latest Emmerdale storyline bringing the issue of HIV in older people into the public eye, over 50s in Lincolnshire are being urged to get tested if they have concerns.
Research suggests people in this age group are less likely to get HIV testing and are unaware of the facts about HIV.
People who are unsure about the sexual history of people they have had sex are particularly at risk.
Diana Swift, HIV clinical nurse specialist at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), 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.”
“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,” she added.
Getting a HIV test is a simple blood test available from either your GP or at a sexual health clinic.
You can also order home self-testing kits from the Terrence Higgins Trust or find out more on Lincolnshire County Council’s HIV Testing web page.
The Sexual Health Service at LCHS provides dedicated clinics across Lincolnshire to support patients with HIV testing, counselling, treatment initiation and monitoring, and is also actively involved in teaching and training for medical staff, students and the wider public.
Alternatively, anyone in need of support and advice for HIV or any other aspects of sexual health can call the Sexual Health Central Booking Line in confidence on 01522 539145.