30 July | 04:02:21
Scotland's Student Newspaper
Sexual health testing drop-in centre opens for gay and bisexual men
New walk-in clinic offers speedy results of HIV and other STI tests
Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 | 09:00

A new, speedy sexual health testing service has been launched in Glasgow for gay and bisexual men.

The service provides quick HIV test results for men, who can also be tested for other sexual infections including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and hepatitis B.

The new drop-in initiative hopes to normalise the idea of being tested and raise the number of those being tested regularly.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have launched the initiative in partnership with Gay Men’s Health and the Sandyford Steve Retson Project.

The drop in service will operate from Glasgow’s Merchant City where Gay Men’s Health is based.

Using a fast-test finger prick technique, results from an HIV and syphilis test can be generated within 20 minutes, while other test results can be picked up at a later date.

According to Health Protection Scotland, there are an estimated 4,315 people who are HIV positive living in Scotland. During the first nine months of 2012 alone, there were 260 new HIV positive results.

Unprotected sex among gay and bisexual men is the main route through which new HIV infections are acquired in Scotland.

The quick and efficient new way of testing is expected to be a great benefit to the health service and the men who use it.

NHSGGC sexual health improvement officer Nicky Coia has commended the service in its efforts to reduce the fear associated with getting tested.

She said: "HIV is the sexually transmitted infection (STI) that people really worry about so the fact they can get that results really quickly is important. We wanted to open up choice to men who might find it more difficult of go through the process of booking an appointment and having to wait for test results.

"The biggest barrier for gay and bisexual men in regards to testing for HIV is the fear of a positive result. So anything we can do to reduce that level of fear is really important."

Richard Flynn, a gay student living in Glasgow said that the key is to normalise testing for gay men.

He said: "This kind of fast testing is invaluable. Even the thought of contracting HIV or other STIs is terrifying, and enough to put people off testing altogether, but it's so important to know your HIV status.

"Fast tests which take away the anxiety of waiting to hear results will hopefully encourage more men to test regularly and keep on top of their sexual health."

The walk-in clinic runs from 4.30pm to 7.30pm every Thursday at the Gay Men’s Health Glasgow office at 30 Bell Street, Merchant City with Sandyford sexual health nurses leading the service.

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