Rotherham Council leader Chris Read takes the HIV test for Testing Week

Councillor Read took the test in his office at Riverside House as part of the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign, which stresses the role of individual responsibility in stopping the spread of the disease. The test was taken in the lead up to European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week, taking place between November 18 and 25 to help more people to become aware of their HIV status. Coun said: “I am proud to play my part in stopping the stigma around HIV by openly talking about it and having this test. People shouldn’t be scared to get tested. "Anyone can contract HIV, so you’re better off knowing and getting support and treatment if you need it - and the test didn’t hurt at all.”

The procedure was carried out by Karl Cooper, a lead health adviser for +Plus Me, a Rotherham based organisation that provides a wide range of support services, activities and training free for people living with or affected by HIV in Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield.

Mr Cooper said: “It's significant that the leader of the Council was getting tested as it means that this is a test for everybody - it doesn't matter who you are, it's a good idea to have an HIV test. “Having a test once a year is a good way to end the doubt and the worry. The sooner someone with HIV starts treatment, the better it is for their health. Treatment can also reduce the amount of HIV in the body to levels at which HIV cannot be passed on.”

Cabinet Member for Public Health, Coun David Roche, said: “The 'It Starts With Me' campaign stresses that everyone has individual responsibility and we can all stop the spread of HIV. "Whether someone is HIV positive, negative or making the decision to test for the first time, they are doing something and have embraced the ‘It Starts With Me’ spirit."

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