Timed to coincide with England’s first ever National HIV Testing Week, new figures released today by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) report that 3,010 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2011, the highest annual figure since the start of the epidemic.
Terrence Higgins Trust says regular testing can halt spread of HIV, as HPA reports record number of diagnoses among gay men.
In the UK, gay and bisexual men remain one of the groups most affected by HIV. However, more than a quarter of men with HIV are undiagnosed and therefore at risk of serious health problems. Someone who is diagnosed late, after the point at which they should have started treatment, is ten times more likely to die within a year of receiving their diagnosis than someone who tests in good time. In addition, undiagnosed HIV is a key factor driving the HIV epidemic, with the majority of onward transmission coming from those who are unaware that they have the infection.
Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry have sent a message of support to HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust to mark its 30th anniversary.
The message, which can be viewed in full here speaks of the need for a renewed focus among their generation on the fight against HIV.
Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We are incredibly honoured to have this message of support from Their Royal Highnesses. In the 30 years since Terry Higgins’ friends founded our charity we’ve achieved so much but the fight against HIV is far from over. It’s wonderful to see the princes inspiring their generation to take up the cause the way their mother inspired mine.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is backing a major HIV testing campaign in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1 December. HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, which marks its 30th anniversary with a reception at City Hall on 19th November, has launched England's first ever National HIV Testing Week. The week runs from 23-30 November and aims to increase testing among the most at risk populations, gay men and Africans in particular.
The Mayor said: '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. 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 Mayor's HIV Ambassador Annie Lennox 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.'
This November, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust will launch England’s first ever National HIV Testing Week.
The week, which will run from 23rd – 30th November, is being co-ordinated through HIV Prevention England (HPE), a partnership of community organisations funded by the Department of Health to carry out national HIV prevention work in England among communities at an increased risk of infection. It forms the centrepiece of HPE’s autumn campaign Think HIV, which aims to encourage gay and bisexual men to test more regularly for the virus.
To take part in the campaign, gay and bisexual men can visit www.thinkHIV.org.uk and complete a short survey about their sex life, to receive personalised advice about how regularly they should be testing for HIV.