Wes Streeting visited Redbridge Central Library today to meet volunteers providing free and rapid testing for HIV in a bid to raise awareness of the fight to combat HIV and AIDS in his capacity as Cabinet Member for Health on Redbridge Council.
The event at Redbridge Central Library was organised by Positive East, Redbridge Rainbow and Redbridge CVS. As well as providing information and resources about sexual health, there was also a free testing service, able to deliver results within ten minutes with support and counselling on hand for those who need it.
The number of people living with HIV has double in the last 10 years and around 100,000 people are living with the disease in the UK. Worryingly, one in five are undiagnosed, presenting a greater risk to them and others. The two most at-risk groups are black African heterosexuals and gay and bisexual men, but anyone who has unprotected sex could be at risk.
Wes Streeting said: "I was really impressed with the service provided by three great local charities. Although the life chances for people with HIV are better than they've ever been, it remains a dangerous disease and we've got to unite to fight it and support those who are HIV positive to live normal, happy lives free from stigma and prejudice.
"The most important thing we can all do is get regularly tested. It's free, doesn't hurt and can reduce the risk of harm to others. The earlier the disease is caught, the better the treatment. That's why the Labour Council are investing in testing and support services across Redbridge."