National HIV Testing Week & World AIDS Day 2016 24/11/2016
19th -25th November is National HIV Test Week. National and Local campaigns are in full swing raising awareness of the importance of HIV testing, as well as increasing opportunities to test – be it in clinical settings, in primary care, through community-based rapid testing or via postal testing.
Dhiverse, the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough sexual health and wellbeing charity provide free and confidential instant HIV testing. They recently issued a press release to raise awareness of National HIV Testing Week and World AIDS Day on 1st December 2016. Please take a read below:
As we enter National HIV Testing Week (19th to 25th November) Dhiverse would like to remind everyone that in the UK where treatments are free and effective, around 39% of new HIV diagnoses are late – that is, diagnoses made after the immune system has begun to be weakened by the virus, and when treatments may be less effective. People are dying because they are diagnosed with HIV infection too late. Being diagnosed late increases the risk of death within a year tenfold.
If you are living with HIV and don’t know it, you might not be taking steps to prevent passing on HIV to other people and you won’t be accessing the treatments which you need to stay healthy with HIV – so it’s really important that anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to HIV takes an HIV test promptly
Treatments for HIV have improved steadily over the last 20 years – but not everyone is aware of this. Myths from the 80s and 90s cling on to life stubbornly – and the fear that an HIV diagnosis is a ‘death sentence’ still discourages people from coming forward and being tested. With a prompt diagnosis and the treatments you need, you can stay healthy with HIV. Fear of the unknown, misinformation, misunderstanding and the stigma and prejudice which still surrounds HIV can all act as barriers to people taking an HIV test. There are over 110,000 people in the UK who are HIV positive and 1 in 4 are unaware of their status.
So, over the coming year, Dhiverse will, once again, be working hard to challenge the issues that prevent people taking a test and doing everything we can to promote clear accurate knowledge of HIV and HIV treatments, to normalize HIV testing (and indeed sexual health check-ups general) and to challenge stigma and prejudice around HIV. We want to see a time when HIV is normalized and it’s seen as a long term condition which could affect anyone.
Sharron Spindler CEO of Dhiverse says “People who are diagnosed early, get the support and treatments they need to stay healthy with HIV and are more likely to take steps to prevent HIV being passed on to others. People who test negative want to remain free of HIV and are therefore more likely to take steps to remain negative. So, let’s work together to get tested early and Stop HIV.”
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge gave Dhiverse this statement in support of National HIV testing week: “I’m proud to wear the red ribbon in solidarity with those diagnosed with HIV. There have been incredible medical advances and people diagnosed early now have a normal lifespan. But we still need to do more to counter the myths and stigma associated with the virus here in Britain and around the world. It is also so important that anyone who thinks they might be at risk of HIV asks for a test. As I have found out by taking a test, it is free, fast and simple. It’s one of the best weapons we have to stop the spread of HIV. Early testing and diagnosis are key to combating this epidemic and we need to remove the stigma around HIV testing. So don’t delay, take a test today.” Best wishes, Daniel.
Andy Bell, singer, songwriter and founder member of the group ‘Erasure’ who is also a patron of Dhiverse, gave this message in support of National HIV Testing Week: “If you think you might have HIV, please, please go & get yourself an HIV test. I waited far too long before I took a test and then I had to suffer the consequences of not taking a test sooner, which included going through all kinds of complications before I was able to start my combination therapy. This wouldn’t have been the case if I’d taken a test as soon as I thought I could have HIV. You know if you’ve had unprotected sex and if there’s a possibility that you might have become infected, so don’t wait, get a test. The sooner you take a test, the sooner you’ll know if you’re positive or not. If you are positive then you can start treatment and get on with your life. Taking a test with the possibility you might be positive can be scary. Finding out that your positive can be a shock, but if you do test positive, you have nothing to be frightened of. It’s your opportunity to take control and start living your life again; you’ll feel so much better in every way, believe me, I’ve been there. If we all make a personal commitment to get tested regularly we could stop HIV. People who test positive get support and treatment; people who test negative want to remain negative. Please don’t wait – take a test. Lots of love Andy x.”
HIV tests are free, confidential, and accurate! You can book a test at any sexual health clinic and at Dhiverse we offer free (donation if possible) HIV Insti tests (result in 60 seconds) at our office in Dales Brewery and through a range of community settings. So if you, or anyone you know, are at all worried about HIV or would like more information on testing and where you can get a test just give us a call on 01223 508805 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – all contact with us is confidential. We aim to give you an HIV Insti test appointment within 48 hours (often within 24 hours); please note our testing service is open Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 6pm. Tests are done in a safe and relaxed setting and if you want to, you can talk to us and ask as many questions as you want, both before and afterwards. Alternatively, you can get a test and information through your sexual health clinic; call 0300 300 3030 for details.
National HIV Testing Week leads into World AIDS Day, which is on the 1st December. World AIDS day is a chance for us to reflect on the HIV epidemic globally, nationally, locally, and in the context of our own personal lives. It offers an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives during the epidemic and more recently, and to celebrate the lives of those who are living with HIV and challenging the stigma and prejudice which still surround the virus. Dhiverse fully supports both National HIV Testing Week and World AIDS Day 2016.
HIV doesn’t discriminate but people do and we need this to change. To show your support you can: wear a RED RIBBON, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and send your thoughts, comments and stories to us at email@example.com giving us your consent to publish it on our website. Anything published will be done so with anonymity but if you would like your name to be included we’d welcome it.
To find out more about our National HIV Testing Week and World AIDS Day activities, including our annual World AIDS Day event on the evening of the 30th November and how to get red ribbons and raise money for Dhiverse, visit our website at www.dhiverse.org.uk or check out our Facebook page.
Join us in supporting everyone who is living with HIV and helping to put an end to the stigma and prejudice which still surrounds HIV.
For enquiries please contact:
Sharron Spindler, CEO or Grant Chambers, Health Promotion Manager
On 01223 508805 or at firstname.lastname@example.org