England’s first national HIV testing week hopes to halt gay ‘epidemic’

Sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust hopes to 'put the breaks' on spread of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men

England’s first national HIV testing week hopes to halt gay ‘epidemic’
29 October 2012

Sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) will launch England’s first ever national HIV testing week later this month.

The week, which will run from 23 to 30 November, is being co-ordinated through HIV Prevention England (HPE), which is a partnership of community organizations funded by the Department of Health to carry out national HIV prevention work in England among high risk groups.

The drive is part of HPE’s Think HIV campaign, which aims to encourage gay and bisexual men to test more regularly for the virus.

According to THT, despite gay men being one of the groups most disproportionately affected by HIV, the virus remains undiagnosed in one in four.

Late diagnosis can lead to serious health problems, with men who have been tested after a point at which they should have started treatment nine times more likely to die within a year of the infection being identified than someone who tests in good time.

THT added that undiagnosed HIV is also a key factor driving the ‘epidemic’ among gay men, with the majority of onward transmission coming from men who are unaware that they have the infection.

‘National HIV Testing Week gives us a great opportunity to remind men of the importance of regular testing,’ said Paul Ward, deputy chief executive of THT.

‘Terrence Higgins Trust recommends that sexually active gay and bi men test for HIV at least once a year, and more regularly if they have a high number of partners.’

However, Ward added that currently less than a quarter of men take an annual test.

He said: ‘If the gay community can drive that figure upwards by testing more often, we will see a reduction in undiagnosed HIV, which in turn will begin to put the brakes on the spread of infection.

‘We believe it is within our grasp to halt the spread of HIV, but solving this lies just as much with the gay community as it does with the government.

‘That’s why we need the whole community – venues, gay businesses and every one of us – to get behind this new initiative and turn a spotlight on HIV testing, not just during testing week but all year round.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

Corner Cottage, Cattal, North Yorkshire

Corner Cottage, Cattal, North Yorkshire

A four bedroom family home with lovely gardens, located towards the edge of a village of 115
No thumbnail available

Gay US Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is now a married man

Representative from New York had already been with husband Randy Florke for more than 20 years
No thumbnail available

Scrap marriage laws, have civil unions for everyone, say Australian MPs

'Appalling that defenders of traditional marriage would prefer to wreck the institution than allow same-sex couples to marry,' says marriage equality activist
No thumbnail available

Mom sues teacher who kicked out anti-gay son

Michigan mom sues teacher and school district after her son is kicked out of class for anti-gay beliefs
No thumbnail available

Twitter users mock Mail on Sunday’s ‘sperm bank for lesbians’ front page

The fact that the UK is to get a national sperm bank appears to have upset The Daily Mail – leading to a front page headline that has prompted outrage
No thumbnail available

Send gay Brits to work in Russia, former BP boss says

Lord Browne, who was forced to quit as CEO after it was revealed he was in a relationship with another man, says he now hopes to live long enough to see a gay Prime Minister
No thumbnail available

Londoners stage protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws

LGBT rights activists and allies held a protest outside the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out against the country’s ban on ‘homosexual propaganda’
No thumbnail available

'Kill the light' with the BANG! Lamp

BANG! is a desk lamp with a gun-shaped remote control, that allows you to shoot the lights out
No thumbnail available

Lady Gaga adds Jakarta to Asia tour

Gay icon to perform in Indonesia for the first time
No thumbnail available

John Travolta gay sex tape rumor

Alleged gay lover of Grease star claims Travolta wanted to film them having sex together