In this blog, we aim to explore the sexual health services available in Blackburn. At Be Well BwD, we aim to improve the sexual health in Blackburn with Darwen by offering prevention focused sexual health services in the area. To shed light on National HIV Testing Week 2024 we aim to further explore the steps we are taking towards HIV testing in the region.

Promoting Sexual Health In Blackburn

Through the new Blackburn with Darwen sexual health strategy, we aim to improve education, prevention, testing, treatment, and support services relating to sexual health.  Our vision is that all our residents have equal access to sexual health services throughout their life and they can enjoy a life of good sexual health, free from prejudice or bias. ​

The core sexual health service is delivered via, Brook the all-age sexual health service In Blackburn with Darwen which encourages individuals to become more aware of sexual health. Residents can access: 

  • STI testing and treatment (In clinic and through digital/postal services)
  • Contraception (including long-acting methods and emergency contraception) (In clinic and through digital/postal services)
  • Pregnancy testing and help with pregnancy choices.
  • HIV testing and support (In partnership with Renaissance UK)
  • Information, education, and advice around all aspects of sexual health and wellbeing

National HIV Testing Week 2024

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.

This virus makes it harder to fight off infections, diseases and other illnesses. There are multiple ways that HIV can be transmitted from one person to another:

  • Bodily fluids like semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk.
  • Sharing needles or syringes 
  • Having condomless sex

The only way to know if you have HIV is by having a test. During National HIV Testing Week, teams across the country are on hand to provide tests, advice and support to those who need it. 

National HIV Testing Graphic for sexual health in Blackburn blog

PrEP

Although HIV sometimes comes with a stigma – people living with the virus, who are diagnosed early and on effective treatment, can live as well as any other person. 

Effective medication can also mean that the person becomes undetectable, which means they cannot pass on the virus to anyone else. 

We call this U=U. Undetectable = Untransmissible.

It’s important that residents of Blackburn with Darwen and beyond are appropriately educated on preventative methods to avoid getting HIV, such as effective condom use, PrEP and not sharing injecting equipment.  

PrEP is a pill for individuals to take before sex that offers near complete protection from HIV. It is an effective tool for those who are at risk of acquiring HIV, especially those who may find it hard to use condoms every time. It can also be used for those individuals who have had unprotected sex with someone who might be HIV positive, it can help stop them from contracting HIV. In our efforts to encourage sexual health in Blackburn, the education and advice surrounding PrEP is a key element.

Renaissance UK- Supporting Sexual Health In Blackburn

Renaissance UK support National HIV Testing Week, which seeks to promote regular HIV testing among key populations in England. Their work aims to reduce the number of undiagnosed people and late diagnoses. 

Teams from Renaissance will be working in the community throughout testing week, delivering pop-up testing and information stations. 

 “We must keep talking about HIV. There have been such huge advances in treatment and prevention in the last 10 years, but so many people still don’t know about these. Such as PrEP; A free medication that can be taken daily to prevent someone from acquiring HIV. Those living with HIV and on effective treatment can achieve an undetectable status and cannot pass on the virus to anyone else. There have even been advances in the manufacturing of condoms and they are now available in extra fine materials, so sensation is less compromised. The best way to know your HIV status for sure, is to get a test. Talk to us, your GP, or a clinical sexual health service if you haven’t been tested and you have ever had sex without a condom, it’s best to know. It’s clear that there is still so much stigma surrounding this virus and one of the ways to address this is through knowledge. So Renaissance UK will be working hard to raise awareness of all advances in HIV Prevention and Treatment across Lancashire.” – Sexual Health Manager of Renaissance UK, Anthony Harrison-West.

HIV Testing In Blackburn

You can find HIV Testing at the following locations this week:

Tuesday 6th February 2024 at Blackburn College – The Renaissance UK team will be at Blackburn College, offering an information and testing event with colleagues from Brook Sexual Health Charity

Wednesday 7th February 2024 at Blackburn Rovers Football Ground – You can come and meet the Renaissance UK team for a health drop in at Ewood Park between 10.00 – 16.00.

Thursday 8th February 2024 at Darwen Leisure Centre – ‘Patricia – The Little Sexy Bus’ will be at Darwen Leisure Centre between  9.30 – 17.30 offering free testing, information and advice.

In addition, The Renaissance UK team continue to promote sexual health in Blackburn by working with bars across the region, offering advice, free safer sex packs and simple ways to order free postal HIV tests.

You can find team members in Blackburn town centre bars on Friday 9th Feb between 19.00-23.00.

You can also speak to your GP Practice, or Health Centre, about HIV testing, or contact Sexual Health Practitioners at Renaissance UK for more information. 

Understanding More About Sexual Health In Blackburn

This week is the perfect opportunity for those who feel they may be at risk of contracting, or having HIV already, to get tested. That isn’t to say that this is the only opportunity, however. Sexual health goes far beyond HIV and encompasses a variety of illnesses, viruses and infections. 

Residents of Blackburn with Darwen can call their sexual health service at Brook on 01254 268700, or visit the website for more information.

Residents are also able to order a FREE postal testing kit, which can be delivered discreetly to their door or another trusted location, from SH:24 .

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