THE shadow minister for public health visited Wirral for a HIV test today as part of a campaign to highlight the importance of being tested.
Luciana Berger, Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, was at sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust's centre in Birkenhead this morning.
While there, she met the charity's chief executive, Dr Rosemary Gillespie, as well as staff and volunteers, before taking the finger prick test.
Current figures from the trust show that across Merseyside and Cheshire, just under 2,000 people have the disease. Around a quarter of those are unaware of it.
Ms Berger, who admitted she has taken a HIV test, which tested negative in the past, told the Globe: "It's really important that people know how easy and accessible it is to come and have an HIV test. It literally takes an hour in total to have the test done.
"There's no stigma attached. The staff here are so friendly and will provide the support that people need.
"You don’t have to wait weeks for get your result, as you may have had to in the past. It's done within about an hour of taking the test. If it's a positive result, there is support available and, if you need it, will get the treatment.
"In and around this region, last year, 70 per cent of people were diagnosed late. The later you're diagnosed, the later you will get the treatment you need. That’s why it’s so important people are diagnosed quickly."
The centre, in Bridge Street, also provides information, advice and support on all aspects of sexual health and HIV.
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, added: "We're delighted that Luciana agreed to come and take a test.
"it shows real leadership and she was able to demonstrates how quick and easy it is to take the test.
"In Cheshire and Merseyside, there are just under 2,000 people living with HIV; almost a quarter of those don’t know that they’re infected.
"It's really important that those people are aware of their status, so that we can get them in for treatment and support, because that’s the very best way that people can stay healthy and stay fit."
For more information on the services that Terrence Higgins Trust offers from its Birkenhead centre, call 666 9890 or email email@example.com.
The centre is open on Wednesday from 5-8pm, but appointments can be made for outside those hours.