Do you know your HIV status? Why not? When were you last tested? Have you ever been tested? In this day and age, in regards to HIV, ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly.
The first National HIV Testing Week takes place from 23-30 November in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1 December.
During the week, many organisations in England are teaming up to encourage gay men and African people to take an HIV test. These are the people most at risk of getting HIV. Across England, organisations will offer more opportunities to test, both in clinics and in the community.
The week aims to:
- Increase the numbers of gay men and African people taking an HIV test
- Raise awareness in the gay and African communities of the importance of testing
- Increase the number of opportunities to take a test at clinics and in the community
These aims will help to reduce the number of people who are diagnosed late with HIV. Early diagnosis helps people to manage their HIV and also reduces the risk of passing it on to other people.
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS. IT’S DEADLY. GET TESTED.
According to latest Health Protection Agency (HPA) figures there were 6,280 new HIV diagnoses in 2011, taking the total number of people living with HIV in the UK to around 96,000. Publishing in National HIV Testing Week, the data show although late HIV diagnoses dropped slightly in 2011 (47 per cent, from 50 per cent in 2010), a quarter of people with HIV remained unaware of their status.
The ‘HIV in the UK’ report also found:
- New diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) reached an all-time high in 2011 (3,010) – nearly one in 12 MSM in London and one in 20 in the UK now has HIV (47 per 1,000).
- The black African community also remained at higher HIV risk in 2011 with 37 per 1,000 living with the infection.
- Nearly half of all new diagnoses were acquired heterosexually (2,990; 48 per cent). Of these, over half were probably acquired in the UK in 2011, compared to only 27 per cent in 2002.
- The small decline in the total new diagnoses (from 6400 in 2010 to 6,280 in 2011) was driven by a reduction in diagnoses among people born outside the UK.
- Overall HIV prevalence in the UK was 1.5 per 1,000 population.
HIV IS MANAGEABLE (BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW).
A positive result is never good news, but it is a wake up call.
Dr Valerie Delpech says “…“The good news is that with the excellent services and treatments available nowadays, if diagnosed and treated early someone with HIV can look forward to a normal lifespan, as well as protecting their sexual partners from infection. That’s why it is vitally important that anyone who has been at risk gets an HIV test, and that those in higher risk groups get screened regularly…”