Over 1,000,000 heterosexual people in Britain believe they cannot contract HIV, according to new research.
Conducted by Newfoundland Diagnostics, the study highlights a need for better education and awareness around HIV, with over a fifth of straight Brits (21%) stating they believe they are unlikely to contract HIV, leading them not to test for HIV.
This is despite HIV being on the rise for heterosexual people according to latest Government data, with straight people accounting for almost half of all new cases.
Other reasons for heterosexual people not testing for HIV include never having unprotected sex (18%), not having access to an HIV test (4%) and not being bothered to test for HIV (3%).
This lack of education has seen 73% of heterosexual Brits having never tested for the virus.
The research exposes a clear hangover of the AIDS epidemic despite advances made by popular media such as Channel 4’s It’s A Sin.
As the diagnosis rate amongst straight Brits rises, testing figures for HIV remain staggeringly low. Notably, only one in 11 (9%) of Brits have been tested multiple times for HIV.
With these alarming figures, Newfoundland Diagnostics is aiming to change attitudes towards testing, raising awareness of the education issue and providing access to tests in a bid to help the nation know their status.
“Substantial amount of ignorance”
Frederick Manduca, co-founder of Newfoundland Diagnostics, said: “Whilst testing does seem to be increasing in the long-term, these findings reveal there remains a substantial amount of ignorance towards testing and its importance amongst heterosexual people.
“Our aim is to use our platform to begin chipping away at the misconceptions surrounding HIV, making it clear that HIV does not discriminate based on sex, gender or sexuality, and that there is power in knowing your status.
“Let’s use this year’s HIV Testing Week to continue changing perceptions, raising awareness and fighting stigma to eradicate this virus from existence.”
The Newfoundland Diagnostics HIV Test (RRP: £18 for one test) is now available in Tesco stores across the nation and online.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which targets the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight everyday infections and diseases. If left untreated, HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). While AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another, HIV can. Thanks to today’s medicine, those with HIV can lead full, healthy lives providing they receive and maintain treatment upon early diagnosis.
National HIV Testing Week runs from Monday 5 February until Sunday 11 February. The annual campaign aims to promote HIV testing, raise awareness about HIV, and reduce the stigma surrounding the virus. The week-long event encourages individuals to get tested for HIV, know their status, and take steps to protect their health.
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