There are many reasons people give for not having an HIV test, including:

  • “I don’t have time”
  • “I feel fine”
  • “I’m scared of the result”
  • “I don’t want anyone to know”
  • “I don’t want to take medication”
  • “I don’t want to lose my partner”

These barriers are the reason that there (according to the Terrence Higgins Trust) around 22,000 people in the UK who do not know their status. If you are positive and do not know it, then the virus can start to cause long-term damage to your body and you can infect other people. With today’s drugs, your life expectancy will not change, and most people following their regime have such low viral loads (level of virus in their bodies) that it is virtually impossible for them to pass the virus on.

Many of the reasons also relate to the perceived stigma of being HIV positive. This is an odd stigma that society has developed. Having an HIV test is a sensible thing to do and this should be recognised.

The Royal London Hospital introduced “opt-out” testing for all adults in the critical care list. This trial aimed to find more undiagnosed patients, helping to normalise testing by asking patients to decide if they did not want to have the test. A far cry from the counselling you needed to have the day before in the 1980’s when HIV testing was first publicised and you had to come back the next day if you still wanted the test.

In the pilot, they found that 52% of patients had the test – 46% more than the previous period. The 0.6% positive rate was three times higher than the previous six months and the same as the Whitechapel area of London where the hospital is located. The pilot ended and became normal practice in the unit. Patients are now getting the treatment they needed for advanced HIV.

Better2Know has a range of HIV tests depending on your needs and how long it has been since the incident you are concerned about. We can help you get the right test for you.

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