As the world marks World AIDS day, we remind Leicester city MPs, Leicester City Council and local HIV Charities who have signed up to the Halve It campaign that there is still much work to be done. (The Halve It Campaign aims to halve the number of new late HIV diagnoses by 2020. Click here to learn more)
We need a reality check, incredible medical progress has been made in the last 20 years and HIV treatment is now very effective. HIV is a manageable health condition and we can manage it well. However, treatment for HIV is only available if you are diagnosed.
People whose HIV infection is diagnosed late have a ten-fold increased risk of dying from AIDS related complications within the first year of diagnosis compared to those diagnosed early. It’s estimated that someone who is diagnosed very late with HIV has a life expectancy at least 10 years shorter than someone who starts treatment earlier.
Undiagnosed HIV has an impact on wider public health. People who don’t know they are HIV positive are at greater risk of passing the virus on to others through unprotected sex as they are not on appropriate therapy.
The earlier HIV it is detected the easier it is to manage and get treated which also makes the risk of passing on the virus to others much lower. If you are diagnosed with HIV before it has damaged your body and you are put on effective treatment, you can expect to live as long as anyone else.
Late Diagnosis in Leicester
Late HIV diagnosis in Leicester is 13.8% higher than average in England and Leicester has the 6th highest rate of late diagnosis of HIV in the country. As a city with these statistics, we are responsible for doing everything we can to ensure these late diagnoses come down and to ensure that people know their HIV status.
The halve it pledge commits to:
- Making HIV testing easier to access and available in a variety of settings in the NHS, HIV charities and patient groups
- Ensuring there are a variety of ways to test for HIV, including home sampling and finger prick testing;
- Ensuring that people diagnosed with HIV are quickly referred to the right care to improve health and prevent onward transmission
- Working together to reduce the stigma that has been associated with HIV
We work all year round to help halve the number of people being diagnosed late, not just on World AIDS Day. For more information on HIV Testing, please visit our website where you can find information about testing with us or other places in Leicester and Leicestershire around the UK.
want a hiv test at home? no problem!
If you prefer not to visit your GP or visit a local service like us, you can also for a FREE home sampling HIV kit or you can purchase your own self test kit. An explanation on the differences between testing methods is available in our HIV Testing Pages.
Do you know your HIV status? – The only way to know if you have HIV or not is to get a HIV test. You can do this for free at your doctor, free at an NHS clinic, free with charities like LASS and now you can even do a HIV test at home, at your convenience.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said:
“I welcome the fantastic work being done by LASS to promote HIV testing and fully support the important campaign to halve the late diagnoses of the virus in Leicester, and across the world. It is vital that more and more people become aware that testing is free and simple.
Enabling greater access to information around HIV and how it is contracted, tested for and managed is critical in reducing the spread of this virus.”
Assistant city mayor Cllr Abdul Osman, executive lead for public health for Leicester said:. “HIV testing is quick free and easy. We would urge people who think that they may have contracted HIV to take a test. “It’s better to know and get treatment early. Testing and treatment remain confidential and available via the NHS”
Jenny Hand, CEO of LASS “We’re delighted to see such strong support for this campaign. At LASS we see the impact of late diagnosis of HIV. HIV isn’t a death sentence – if caught in time people can live long and healthy lives. But we need people to be tested so we can provide the appropriate treatment, care and support.”
HIV: the facts
- There were 103,700 people in UK were living with HIV in 2014 (Health protection agency)
- 17% (18,100) of that figure are unaware and at risk of unknowingly passing their virus onto others
- If diagnosed early, people living with HIV can expect a normal life expectancy
- Once people are accessing treatment the chance of passing the virus onto others are reduced to severe minimum
- HIV is mainly concentrated in two populations- men who have sex with men and black and African communities, but infection rates in other groups are rising
- The vast majority of HIV infections occur through unprotected sex.
In an age where Hospitals and GP practices fail to routinely test for HIV, can you really afford not to decide to take one yourself? – Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of taking a HIV test.