People who are at risk of contracting HIV are being urged to take a test by health experts from Lancashire County Council.
The advice comes in the run up to National HIV Testing Week, which begins on Saturday 19 November and aims to help to stop the spread of this infectious, but preventable disease.
Every year between 6,000 and 7,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in England.
Adverts will be placed throughout Lancashire and across the country to encourage people to take a test.
A series of events will be run in Preston:
• Monday 21 November: HIV Testing and Information session at UCLan student’s union, 10am-3pm.
• Tuesday 22 November: HIV Testing at Healthier Living, 2 Union Court, Union Street, 2pm-4pm.
• Friday 25 November: Awareness session, Health and Wellbeing Fayre at St John’s Minster Church, 10am-4pm.
• In Burnley, information events will run throughout the week at UCLan Burnley Student’s Union.
Information events will be run in West Lancashire:
• Monday 21 November: information station at The Concourse Shopping Centre, Southway, Skelmersdale, 10am-12 noon.
• Monday 21 November: information station at Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, 2pm-4pm.
• In Lancaster, there will be a mobile information stand on Wednesday 23 November at the Inspire office, 24 Great John Street, Lancaster between 10am-12 noon.
Over 103,000 people are living with HIV across the country, including 650 in Lancashire.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting National HIV Testing Week in Lancashire.
“A quarter of people with HIV don’t know they have it and that’s a real problem. If you’re concerned at all, this is a great time to get checked out.
“Of course you can book a test at a number of places including your local GP, GUM clinic or sexual health service at any time. You can also order a sample kit to be delivered to your home, so you can take the test there.”
The main groups who are at higher risk of contracting HIV are men who have sex with men, and men and women from black African communities.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health, said: “It’s quick and easy to take a HIV test.
“Early diagnosis helps to prevent people passing HIV on to others and ensures they have a much better chance of living healthily for many years. Knowing your HIV status and that of your partner is important, and if you are at regular risk of potential exposure to HIV you should have a regular test.
“Although there is still no cure, there are effective treatments. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the quicker you can access treatment, so you can lead a full and healthy life.
“As well as making sure you take a test, it’s important that you practice safe sex and use condoms to stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”
Anyone wanting a test can contact the sexual health services in Lancashire on 0300 123 6750, Monday to Friday from 9am-4.30pm.
For further advice and information, contact a sexual health practitioner at Healthier Living on 01772 253840.
To order a free home test kit, visit www.test.hiv.
National HIV Testing Week is run by HIV Prevention England. For more information, visit www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/tag/national-hiv-testing-week-2016.
For more information about Lancashire County Council’s sexual health services, visit: www.lancashire.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/your-health-and-wellbeing/sexual-health.aspx.