Student Life is delighted to announce our newest partnership – with Terrence Higgins Trust. Here, the Trust’s Senior Health Promotion Practitioner – Andy Turner – introduces the Trust to readers.
Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, and provides a wide range of services to over 100,000 people a year. The charity also campaigns and lobbies for greater political and public understanding of the personal, social and medical impact of HIV and sexual ill health.
How did the charity get its name?
Terry Higgins was one of the first people in the UK to die with AIDS. The charity has always been, and continues to be, at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Over the years, the charity has also developed sexual health services – not only for people living with or affected by HIV, but also the wider population, especially young people who are most vulnerable to poor sexual health. The charity has grown and evolved in response to the needs of people using its services and is not only the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, but also one of the largest in Europe.
Terrence Higgins Trust in Suffolk
Terrence Higgins Trust arrived in Suffolk in 2012, offering support services to people living with HIV, and delivering health improvement services across the county to the general population.
Our Long Term Condition Management team offers advice on benefits, housing and employment for people living with HIV, and offers assistance for people struggling with the emotional aspects of HIV through group and peer support. Supporting people with HIV to live healthily and well with their condition remains central to our work and we work in partnership with Suffolk County Council to achieve this.
Our health improvement service is delivered in partnership with Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, covering all sexual health services, and is split into two teams: Health Promotion (for adults) and Youth Engagement for those up to 25 years of age. Additionally, we offer services which bridge these two age ranges; with rapid HIV testing available to those over the age of 16. Our HIV Fastest clinics offer rapid HIV testing in community settings: results are available in 60 seconds and the clinics are free and confidential, with clear referral pathways to iCaSH (Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health) clinics where required. We run a regular HIV testing clinic every Monday between 6pm and 8pm, from our office at 3-9 Arcade Street, Ipswich IP1 1EX.
Our Youth Engagement team do a variety of work, from delivering Sex and Relationships Education to schools and colleges, to facilitating training for professionals who work with young people around subjects such as delaying early sex and homophobia. The main focus of the team though is to deliver services directly to young people, and chlamydia testing as part of the NHS National Chlamydia Screening Programme forms a large part of this service.
Chlamydia is very common, affects the 15-24 age group the most and, as it often has no symptoms, the only way to know if you have it is to test regularly. Testing for chlamydia is really easy – it just involves peeing in a pot or having a swab – and you can order a self test kit online (www.youngandfree.org.uk). Our online service is free and confidential, which means we won’t share any details about your test. You’ll get your results back within 10 working days, straight to your phone.
Chlamydia can be treated very easily by taking a course of antibiotics. However, if left untreated it can lead to health issues such as infertility (this is where you have problems conceiving or are unable to), and reactive arthritis which can be painful and cause long-term joint problems. Our tests also check for gonorrhoea, another easily treatable sexually transmitted infection.
We also provide the c-card scheme, where 13 – 24 year olds can sign up to get free condoms from outlets across the county. Using condoms also reduces the chances of getting STIs like chlamydia and can also prevent pregnancy.
We are regularly seen at different venues around Suffolk, so keep a look out for our outreach staff around campus and in schools.