When was the last time you were tested for HIV? Well, it’s National HIV Testing Week, and it’s the perfect time for you to get tested and encourage others to do the same.
National HIV Testing Week (NHTW) promotes HIV testing to gay and bisexual men and black African men and women. These groups make up seven out of ten people in the UK living with HIV.
Here are just five reasons why you should get tested this National HIV Testing Week:
Testing is easy, free and confidential
Gone are the days when you’d have to wait ages to get your results. You can test for HIV in a community service, sexual health clinic, your GP, or even your own home.
Testing for HIV is now easier than ever with many options of how you can get tested. Find out which testing option is best for you here.
You can also order your free HIV postal test here.
It’s important to know your status
Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV or not. People sometimes live for years unaware that they have it.
Recent Public Health England stats revealed: It’s estimated over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and over 4,000 people are diagnosed every year. Of these, 12 per cent are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.
If you’ve never tested, or it’s been more than a year since your last test, it’s a good idea to test now. It’s advised to test once a year – or more often if you’ve had unprotected sex with more than one partner.
Testing puts you in control of your health
If the test result is negative, you can take action to stay that way. If it’s positive, you can get treatment that keeps you healthy and prevents serious illness.
When people get very ill or die because of HIV, it’s usually because of testing late and missing out on treatment.
Keep you and your partner healthy
If you have HIV and don’t know it, you’re more likely to pass it on. But if you know your status, you can make sure you and your partner are taking steps to stay healthy.
For example, if you have a positive result, your partner could take PrEP while you start treatment. And if you have a negative result, you might choose to use PrEP yourself.
It takes about six months on treatment to become undetectable. This is when the amount of virus in your blood is so low that you can’t pass it on to other people.
Get the treatment and support you need
HIV medication and medical care is free in the UK, if you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the better.
Taking effective HIV medication as prescribed and getting an undetectable viral load means you can’t pass on HIV to your partner, even without a condom.
If you test positive, there is a wealth of information and support to help you live well with HIV.
For more information about National HIV Testing Week go to startswithme.org.uk.