A drop in service offering rapid results for HIV tests is being expanded.

The Terence Higgins Trust (THT) South is running a pilot scheme in Hastings for gay men worried they may have contracted the disease.

It follows a successful fast track service which has been running in Brighton for the past four years.

If the new scheme works out, the trust is hoping to expand it to other locations in East Sussex including Eastbourne.

The monthly clinics, which start today, (mon) are held in the early evening to make it more accessible and based at Hastings Voluntary Action in Priory Street.

The idea is to provide a service for people who may be put off by hospitals and the more usual sexual health clinics.

The service is free and confidential.

Specially trained nurses will carry out the test and the results will be ready within an hour.

If it is positive, the patient will be offered support and counselling and an appointment at a sexual health clinic in Ore for further tests.

THT South regional manager Sue Peters said: "The service has proved very successful in Brighton and we hope it will be the same here.

"We will be able to give people peace of mind or offer them the help they may need if the result does not go their way.

"It is also a way of making tests more accessible. A lot of clinics are held at times when people may be working and can't get there.

"Having it in the early evening and with no appointment necessary should make things easier.

"We cannot predict how many people will use the service but we want to reach out into the community and let them know the facility is there.

"Hopefully in the longer term we will be able to expand it further."

Ther are around 50 people in the Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust (PCT) area who currently receive treatment for HIV although the actual figure is likely to be higher assome patients may be treated outside the district.

Men attending the clinic will be given information and support before and after the test and given information on the range of support services available including counselling, information, advice and peer support.

THT South health promotion co-ordinator for Eastbourne, Tadgh Crozier, said: "We wanted to offer a quick, convenient testing service in the centre of Hastings.

"Some people get tested very late, sometimes when they are already ill. We hope that by making it easier to have an HIV test, more people will come forward."

Sessions are held on the first Monday of every month between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.

The number of tests that can be done at each session is limited so men are advised to arrive early.

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