Community Collaborations

Issue 99

For this month's column, I sat down with Mark EllerbyHedley, Sexual Health Improvement Practitioner from Solutions4Health, to discuss their work in the local Newcastle community as well as their collaboration with The Eagle Bar Newcastle - a collaboration in which Marriott Communications is supporting with our PR services.

Mark had this to say: “The Newcastle Sexual Health Service transferred from Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals to Solutions4Health on October 1st 2023.

Solutions4Health are committed to delivering an excellent integrated sexual health service in Newcastle, working with community partners to engage with people who find it difficult to access services in the city centre.

Many people do not realise they have been at risk of HIV infection. Symptoms can take many years to develop. This is why it is important to be tested.

Testing is easy, free and confidential

Testing for HIV is now easier than ever with many options of how you can get tested. Sexual Health Services 4 Newcastle offered a ‘Rapid HIV Testing’ event, where you get the result within 10 minutes on the Melissa Bus, which was located outside The Eagle Bar Newcastle, on Friday 16th February between 2pm – 5pm. They were able to offer support on a range of sexual health matters, including access to PrEP & PEP, STI Testing and contraception.

It’s important to know your status

Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV or not. People sometimes live for years unaware that they have it.

If you’ve never tested, or it’s been more than a year since your last test, it’s a good idea to test now.

It’s advised to test once a year – or more often if you’ve had unprotected sex with more than one partner.

Testing puts you in control of your health

If you have HIV and don’t know it, you’re more likely to pass it on. But if you know your status, you can make sure you and your partner are taking steps to stay healthy.

For example, if you have a positive result, your partner could take PrEP while you start treatment.

And if you have a negative result, you might choose to use PrEP yourself.

Get the treatment and support you need HIV medication and medical care is free in the UK, if you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the better.

Taking effective HIV medication as prescribed and getting an undetectable viral load means you can’t pass on HIV to your partner, even without a condom. U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable)

With early diagnosis and the right treatments, most people with HIV live a long and healthy life.”

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