In an attempt to break down some of the barriers and fears around HIV testing, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is launching a major new campaign encouraging gay men to share their experiences of taking an HIV test.
‘I Did It’ (www.ididit.org.uk) is a one stop shop for information and advice around HIV testing, including where men can find their nearest clinic and what to expect when they arrive. Men who have already tested – whatever their result – will be able to add their story to a searchable map of the UK, so that others can find information on testing in their area. The website also has discussion threads, a clinic finder, and video clips of men talking about life after testing HIV positive. ‘I Did It’ has been funded by the Department of Health through CHAPS, a partnership of community organisations, which is coordinated by THT and carries out HIV prevention work with gay men in England.
Currently in the UK, one in four gay men with HIV remain undiagnosed, posing a serious risk to their health. They are also three times more likely to pass the virus on than men who have been diagnosed and started on treatment. THT is one of a number of organisations signed up to the ‘Halve It’ campaign, a commitment to halve undiagnosed HIV within the next five years.
Ben Tunstall, Head of Health Improvement at THT, said: “If we’re going to reverse the HIV epidemic in this country, the first step is to cut the number of undiagnosed infections. Among gay men, most cases of HIV are passed on in the time between infection and diagnosis. Positive men who are aware of their status can not only start the treatment they need to stay healthy, they are also far less likely to pass the virus on.
“We’ve researched the reasons some men don’t test, and our new website will tackle these by showing how quick and easy the process is. But we don’t want you to just take our word for it; we’re also inviting men from across the gay community to share their stories and give others the nudge they need. It’s normal to be nervous before taking an HIV test for the first time, but we hope our new website will help reassure gay men that, today, there are more good reasons to know your status than to put off having a test.”
The ‘I Did It’ website allows you to submit your story, please visit www.ididit.org.uk and complete a short form. All stories will remain anonymous.