Health chiefs in St Helens are urging residents at risk of HIV to use a new finger prick test now available in the borough.
The free, confidential test is being introduced as part of a national drive to reduce the number of late and undiagnosed HIV infections.
Anyone can be affected by HIV - regardless of age, gender, ethnic background or sexuality.
Liz Gaulton, St Helens Council’s director of public health, said: “HIV is a viral infection that causes progressive weakening of the immune system.
“If left untreated it can result in the development of severe infections and other complications.
“However the sooner HIV is diagnosed, the quicker treatment can start - leading to better clinical outcomes and less likelihood that the infection will be passed onto others.”
Coun Jeanie Bell, cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, added: “If anyone thinks they may have been at risk of HIV, all they need to do is pick up the phone or make their way to one of the many clinics in the borough - where they will be seen by a fully trained, non-judgemental clinician offering confidential support.”
The HIV test is a simple finger prick test.
It’s free of charge and completely confidential. Any patients with a positive result will receive expert care, advice and support.
The recommended advice is to have a full sexual health screen with each change of partner and to use a condom, to protect against sexually transmitted infection.
For more information, clinic times and locations visit www.getiton.org.uk or call 0845 155 0156.