Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
As World Aids day has been and gone once again, the sexual health team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London is encouraging their gay and bisexual patients to test regularly for HIV.
Robert Palmer, Lead Advisor and Specialist Psychotherapist at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Department of Sexual Health, says:
For most of our patients, regularly might be once or perhaps twice a year. However, we would really like our patients to test even more often if they are at high risk of infection.
Testing is so very simple these days. Gone are the tests that need to be sent off to the lab, with results returning in a few weeks – now, very sensitive tests can be performed while the patient is in the room, and a result given in less than a minute. Your time in the clinic is greatly reduced from a few years ago, and the accuracy of the tests have improved immensely.
By very regular testing, anyone who tests positive would be seen much earlier after infection, perhaps even during their seroconversion (when the body begins to produce an immune response to the HIV virus). Such intervention may mean access to drug trials that are beginning to show that early treatment may be helpful to the long term health of the individual, by blocking HIV’s ability to damage the immune system. The other reason why we emphasise more regular testing, is that we know that those who are seroconverting are super infectious, and are fuelling the continuing HIV epidemic. So very regular testing would mean looking after your health, and also looking after the health of others.
There are two other services we’d like to remind people of:
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