Straight Folk – You Seriously Need To Start Talking About HIV

Seamless pattern of opened contraceptives for men
Seamless pattern of opened contraceptives for men

Seamless pattern of opened contraceptives for men

While we may think that, at this point, we know all there is to know about HIV and what causes it after decades of research, recent data has revealed that there is still a long way to go, especially for heterosexual people.

Newfoundland Diagnostics have recently conducted a study using a sample of 2,504 people, into public awareness and perception of HIV ahead of HIV Testing Week this week. Alarmingly, their research found that many people aren’t aware that anybody can get HIV and have never been tested.

According to the researchers, over one million straight people in the UK believe that they are immune to HIV. This is exceptionally alarming, given that UK Government figures show that almost half of HIV cases are heterosexual people.

73% of straight Brits have never tested for HIV

The study also found that over a fifth (21%) of heterosexual Brits believe that they are unlikely to contract HIV, leading them to not get tested. Additionally, one million Brits believe that they are ‘immune’ to the condition.

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%).

Overall, this research exposes a sore lack of education within the UK around HIV and how it is contracted and manifests. Newfoundland Diagnostics notes that this ironically echoes the infamous tombstone ads of the 80s which said: “don’t die 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.”

Who can get HIV and how is it transmitted?

Despite much of the focus surrounding HIV being on gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men testing for HIV, far more people could contract the disease. Anybody who has unprotected sex, exchanges bodily fluids or shares needles should regularly test for HIV. Anybody can get infected with it, regardless of sexuality, race, gender, sex, or age.

HIV is found in the body fluids of someone living with HIV. This includes semen, vaginal, and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. In the UK, according to Newfoundland Diagnostics, the most common way of getting it is through anal or vaginal sex without a condom. It cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine, or saliva.

How do I test for HIV?

All HIV tests will check your blood for any blood-borne diseases and are available as part of a regular STI check up. You can visit a GUM clinic or sexual health practice for a test, or you can test at home with a self-test such as Newfoundland Diagnostics’ HIV test.