It’s HIV testing awareness week chaps and the HIV virus is still something that needs more spotlight. Because of the 101,600 people in the UK living with HIV, 8% aren’t aware they have it. 8% might not sound like a lot chaps, but in reality that’s 1 in every 12 of the people who have the disease.
So if you have some questions about HIV, what it is and why National HIV Testing Week is so important, stay with me.
What is HIV?
This might seem like a question with an obvious answer to many, but there are still a great deal of people (particularly you younger chaps) who don’t know exactly what HIV is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming you for lack of knowledge, because there’s still not enough of a conversation about this. HIV attacks the immune system, affecting your body’s defence efforts against disease and infection. This leaves sufferers open to getting really serious illnesses such as cancer. HIV is spread through bodily fluids including blood and semen.
Are condoms sure to protect against HIV?
Condoms are effective in protecting you against contracting HIV, providing you use them correctly. Chaps, if you’re at all unsure about how to use a condom, do your research. There is nothing “uncool” about taking some time and diligence to make sure you’re protected against risk – it would be far less cool to pass on HIV to someone else or contract it yourself as a result of sleeping with someone who has it. Call me old-fashioned, but nonchalance and sexual wellbeing never go hand-in-hand!
HIV and being gay – am I “high risk’?
It’s true that gay men remain the highest risk group for HIV in the UK. If you’re gay and suddenly feel anxious reading this, don’t worry. There are very straightforward and simple ways to make sure you don’t contract HIV. Using a condom, for one. The HIV rates among gay men suggest there are is still a problem where condom usage is concerned.
Unfortunately, stigma, homophobia and discrimination are all still very real and very much affecting people in the UK, a country where you might think we had seen the back of this kind of unacceptable prejudice. But the conversation is growing, and that’s fantastic news…
Breaking the stigma surrounding HIV
Ex-rugby player Gareth Williams made headlines earlier this year for coming out as HIV positive. His brave and inspiring move to talk about this was to reassure the public that people can still live long healthy lives and be HIV positive. He spoke out against stereotypes that have tainted HIV since the 1980s and how there is still a long way to go surrounding how society views people with HIV. I for one, congratulate Gareth for his candid speech and willingness to shed some much-needed light on living with HIV.
National HIV Testing Week – the perfect time to get tested!
As much as I don’t like to nag, if you’ve had unprotected sex, gay or straight, you should 100% look at getting tested for HIV ASAP chaps. I can’t stress how important this is. Walk-in clinic can carry out HIV tests and give you the peace of mind and support you need and deserve. Attend a walk-in appointment and get an instant HIV test, carried out by a compassionate and caring team.