HIV Testing all Over the News Worldwide

HIV Testing all Over the News Worldwide

Reducing Barriers to HIV Testing in HRM

Global’s Eilish Bonang sits down with Shane Pope, with the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, to talk about their Community Link program, which offers free, at-home HIV testing kits so people can find out their status from the comfort of their own homes.

HIV testing: ‘Home tests can help remove stigma’

Ellie says a home kit can encourage people to get tested without fear of stigma

“We live in a society where sex is still quite a taboo topic. Just the discussion ‘let’s go for an STI test’ can be quite a daunting thing.”

For Ellie Harrison, getting a positive HIV result came as a shock.

Men who have sex with other men are one of the groups most at risk of getting HIV, so for the 26-year-old – as a straight woman – it was “the last one” she expected.

Ellie was diagnosed five years ago, through a home test small enough to fit through the letterbox.

A drop of blood from a finger prick is tested, which Ellie tells BBC Newsbeat was “easy and efficient”.

This week, more free HIV tests are being offered to people in England.

It’s part of a government drive to improve diagnosis, which dropped off during the Covid pandemic.
STI test
About 4,400 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV

The kit, which arrives in plain packaging through the post, gives a result within 15 minutes.

A “reactive” result means HIV is possible and a clinic check is needed.

“When I found out, I was petrified, and I didn’t know anything about HIV at the time,” Ellie says.

“I was just really scared of what was going to happen, what the treatment was going to be like, and if I was going to be OK.”

Ellie was booked into a specialist HIV clinic and found out specific details, like the amount of virus in her blood – viral load – and the strength of her immune system.

The treatment plan can be as simple as taking tablets to bring viral load down, with Ellie saying she feels HIV is “one of the easiest medical conditions” to manage.

“There’s been a bit of a mental ride, but I think that was just my lack of knowledge at the start.”

HIV medication can keep the virus at undetectable levels, meaning you cannot pass HIV on and your health is protected.


What is HIV?

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus – the immunodeficiency is the weakening of the immune system by the virus
  • If untreated it can lead to late-stage HIV or Aids, the name for a collection of illnesses caused by the virus
  • Medication helping those with HIV to live long, healthy lives has been available for decades
  • Modern medication reduces the viral load to undetectable levels, meaning someone can’t pass on HIV and their health is protected

Ellie feels there is still a stigma around HIV, but she thinks home tests can help.

“I think there’s still a lot of fear around being with someone that’s got HIV or just being around knowing someone that has it and whether they can pass it on or not.”

That’s something Ellie has experienced, “especially being a straight woman”.

“People that I date, I think the education in that community [young, straight men] is pretty poor,” she says.

“I have to go through the whole process of explaining what undetectable means, that I’m actually OK.”

But the ease of a home test means more people may feel comfortable getting tested.

“That’s how I got diagnosed. It’s so easy and efficient,” Ellie says.

“I always say to people, I’d rather know my status and be OK, happy and healthy than not.”

HIV testing: Free DIY home kit offered in England

Free HIV tests that can be done at home are being offered this week to people in England.

It is part of a government drive to improve diagnosis, which dropped off during the Covid pandemic.

The kit is small enough to fit through the letterbox and arrives in plain packaging through the post.

It gives a result within 15 minutes by testing a drop of blood from a finger prick. A “reactive” result means HIV is possible and a clinic check is needed.

Support and help is available to arrange this.

If the result is negative it means the test did not detect HIV. If you think you are at risk of HIV, however, you should test every three months because it can take a while for the virus to show in the blood.

  • Home tests can help remove stigma
About 4,400 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV, which comes with serious health risks.

HIV medication can keep the virus at undetectable levels, meaning you cannot pass HIV on and your health is protected.

Most people get the virus from someone who is unaware they have it, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) charity which campaigns about and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health.

HIV testing rates remain a fifth lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic – with heterosexual men in particular now testing far less than in 2019.

Testing among gay and bisexual men has increased but rates of testing among women have fallen by 22% compared to 2019, while there has been a 41% drop for heterosexual men.

Straight men and women are also far more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage.

  • Prince Harry: Know your status and get an HIV test
  • Get tested more, urges sexual health charity
Eastenders' Zack
Eastenders has a plotline where Zack discovers he has HIV
THT has been working with the BBC drama EastEnders to raise awareness of HIV among heterosexuals through a storyline where a lead character called Zack Hudson is diagnosed with the virus.

Taku Mukiwa, head of health programmes at THT, said: “Gay and bisexual men and black African people continue to be the most impacted by HIV in the UK, but anyone who’s sexually active can be affected and should think about testing.

“As the EastEnders HIV storyline we’ve been advising on shows, the truth is it’s always better to know your HIV status, whether positive or negative.

“If it’s negative, you can make sure it stays that way.

“While, as Zack in EastEnders is learning, huge advances in HIV treatment mean you can live a long healthy life with the virus, have children who are HIV-negative and that HIV can’t be passed on to anyone else.”

People can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms. Testing is the only way to know your HIV status.

Using a condom during sex can prevent infections.

Dr Alison Brown, interim head of HIV surveillance at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “HIV does not discriminate, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.

“Taking up a free and confidential HIV test regularly when having condom-less sex will ensure you’re diagnosed early and started on effective treatment, helping to reduce transmission of HIV and the number of people with undiagnosed HIV.”

It is recommended that anyone who is sexually active tests for HIV annually, and more regularly if you have a new or multiple partners.

The free testing initiative coincides with National HIV Testing Week and making progress towards the government’s goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030.




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