Well, we have come to the end of HIV Testing Week for 2017 and today is World AIDS Day. As ever Wandsworth Oasis has been fantastic in supporting the national campaign at a local level. Working with Wandsworth's Department of Public Health and other key organisations they have proved invaluable in raising the profile of HIV and highlighting the importance of regular testing and early diagnosis. It's estimated that almost 100,000 people have HIV infection in the UK and campaigns such as HIV Testing Week bring communities together and raise the profile of key issues in combating HIV infection.

I have had the privilege of working with Wandsworth Oasis since the campaign began 5 years ago and their relentless commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS has made them a beacon within the field.During the week we have had community testing available at Wandsworth Oasis at Tooting Amen Corner and also at Battersea Power Station where workers were encouraged to access testing and also listen to 'toolkit' talks which were brief and informal and were well received. Additionally GP practices and pharmacies across the borough promoted the campaign normalising HIV testing and targeting those most vulnerable.

Wandsworth Public Health has been working with local and national stakeholders to address public health issues that are particularly important to Wandsworth residents, such as earlier diagnosis, in order to access prompt treatment. Early access to treatment for those who have HIV allows improved health outcomes for both the individual and the population as a whole. The development of effective treatment for those with HIV means that we can now treat people once diagnosed, but testing is key. Currently it's estimated that 1 in 8 people who have the virus are unaware, and if unaware they cannot access treatment and care allowing the virus to damage their immune system and increase their likelihood of having serious health problems. Additionally if diagnosed early it means that once on treatment the outcome is not only better for the individual but also for the population as a whole because sexual transmission is reduced.

Most people who test for HIV are not infected. It is important that HIV testing is normalised to identify those who need treatment and it also helps tackle the stigma that can often be associated with the virus. HIV is a considered a long term medical condition and for those who have HIV are able to live lives with a near normal life expectancy. The sooner we tackle all forms of discrimination and stigmatisation within our society the better; and I have pleasure in knowing that this campaign contributes to helping address this.