Mayor of London Boris Johnson is backing England’s first ever national HIV testing week.
HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, which marked its 30th anniversary at the UK capital’s City Hall last night (19 November), launched the campaign to encourage gay and bisexual men to test more regularly for the virus.
‘London is home to almost half of all people living with HIV in the UK, but a quarter of them are unaware they carry the virus,’ said Johnson during the birthday bash attended by pop star Annie Lennox and other community activists, including people living with HIV.
Johnson added: ‘It is vital that people who might be at risk get tested, not only to reduce the risk of transmission to others, but to ensure they get the life-saving treatments that are available.’
The week, which will run from Friday (23 to 30 November), is part of HIV Prevention England’s Think HIV campaign.
Gay men and Africans remain the groups most at risk of HIV in the UK, with around one in 20 people from both groups infected with the virus.
That number rises to one in seven among men on the London gay scene. A quarter of people with HIV in the UK remain untested and unaware they have the virus.
Lennox, who is the mayor’s HIV ambassador, said: ‘Stigma, fear and complacency are the greatest obstacles to people seeking out their HIV status.
‘This is why Terrence Higgins Trust and the Mayor of London have taken this initiative to encourage those most at risk to take the HIV test. Knowing your status can literally be a life saving action.’