A beauty salon next to West Croydon station might not be the first place you’d think of to pop in for an HIV test.

But it was one of 10 locations across the borough offering up the service as part of a national campaign.

For two weeks, hundreds of people had the chance to walk in for a free test with the results ready in minutes.

Volunteers from Croydon College were on hand giving people information about HIV and encouraging people to take the test.

Kehinde Bakare a second year health and social care student took to the streets with classmate Oluwatoyin Adejoro to spread information about HIV testing.

She said it was hard to get people to agree to take the test as they thought there was no way they could have the virus.

“Some of the people say they don’t have boyfriends or something so we have been explaining to them HIV isn’t just transferred through sex,” she added.

What is the test like?

One of the businesses to take part in the campaign was Prestige Hair and Beauty in London Road.

The finger prick test takes just a few minutes from start to finish – I went along and had the test done at Prestige.

Going in the front door it wasn’t the place you’d expect to get an HIV test.

We walked through the salon where a couple of women were getting their eyebrows and nails done.

Downstairs, a massage room was being used as the testing area with a trained professional from KwaAfrica an organisation that works to support those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS to lead “healthy and productive lives”.

First things first I had to fill in a form which included personal details like age and name as well as other information including sexual orientation and ethnicity.

Next it was straight into the test which started by a with a small prick on the finger.

As a drop of blood formed it was sucked up into a tiny pipette.

This was mixed with a little bottle of chemical then poured into a dish.

When another two liquids are added to this, one or two dots emerge in the liquid.

We waited a couple of seconds before one dot started to show in the blue liquid – indicating a HIV negative result.

And with that I was sent on my way just five minutes and a small prick on my finger and the reassurance of knowing without the anxious wait.

Why was the testing happening?

Croydon Council organised the two week event which last year saw 900 extra people get the test.

It concludes tomorrow (Saturday, December 1) which is World Aids Day and the first week coincided with National HIV Testing Week.

It is estimated there are about 2,000 people in Croydon living with HIV.

Across the UK one in every eight HIV positive people do not know that they have the virus.

This means they are not accessing the support available or the treatment to protect their health and prevent HIV being passed on to anyone else.

Fred Semugera from Croydon Public Health said: “This is the seventh year we have run this particular campaign.

“We chose strategically placed locations where we thought people would be passing by.

“People are surprised how easy it is and some people come out and hug you and say ‘you’ve saved me all the worry’.”

But he added that is sometimes isn’t as easy as just inviting people in for a test.

There is still stigma relating to HIV and Fred works to break this by addressing it alongside other health problems like diabetes and mental health.

“There are some people who find the information useful but others that are scared,” he added.

Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care said increasing the opportunity for people to get tested helps to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

She said: “I think the campaign is all the students and Fred have done a great job.

“It takes a lot for anyone to walk out into the street and say will you be HIV tested

“I am so proud of this whole thing.

“You live a perfectly normal life if it is caught early, the sooner you know the better it is for your health.”