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The last week of November is national HIV Testing Week, and Saturday (December 1) is World AIDS Day 2012.

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To mark these, NHS north east London and the City (NELC) and local community groups are encouraging those at risk in Havering to get tested early, and spread the message that early testing saves lives.

More than a quarter of people with HIV in the UK don’t know they are infected.

This can put others at risk and it reduces the chance of successful treatment, because the longer HIV goes undiagnosed the more damage it can do to the body. People diagnosed late are ten times more likely to die within a year than those diagnosed early.

Although there is currently no cure for HIV, advances in medicines means that people on HIV treatment can live healthy, active lives.

If diagnosed early, a person living with HIV in the UK can expect a near-normal life span.

Dr. Ken Aswani, GP and Medical Director of NHS ONEL, said: “If you think that you may be at risk, either through unprotected sex or sharing drug injection equipment, then see your GP and get tested early.

“A test is quick and free and can help you protect your loved ones and live a full life. So don’t put it off, as it really is better to know.”

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