The Health Protection Agency estimates that around 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV. Almost half of these people live in London and, more worryingly, there is an estimated 10,000 people in London with HIV who are unaware of their status.
The biggest challenge in treating HIV and controlling its spread is getting to those people who are positive, but have yet to find out. #HIVtestweek is an initiative looking to address this.
The Terrence Higgins Trust has teamed up with other organisations in England to encourage gay men and African people, in particular, to take an HIV test. This is because these are the people most at risk of getting HIV in the UK.
In doing this, #HIVtestweek aims to:
- Increase the number of gay men and African people taking an HIV test;
- Raise awareness in the gay and African communities of the importance of testing; and
- Increase the number of opportunities to take a test at clinics and in the community.
HIV is associated with serious morbidity, high costs of treatment and care, significant mortality and can reduce life expectancy by up to 10 years. However, when people are diagnosed early and get access to anti-retroviral drugs, they can expect near normal life expectancy.
The Terrence Higgins Trust is running the ‘Starts With Me’ campaign, where you can learn about HIV, why testing matters and how to get tested yourself.