Associating HIV with death must be stopped. This is no longer the reality. This week, former rugby player Gareth Thomas publicly announced his HIV status in the hope of changing perceptions on living with HIV. “I’ve got HIV and it’s OK”, he said. In light of this, we want to help beat the stigma and eradicate the myths surrounding life with HIV.
The AIDS crisis in the 1980s has shaped society’s attitudes towards HIV. The epidemic instilled fear in the eyes of the majority, with death perceived inevitable in those with the virus. However, with medical advancements, times have changed. Those diagnosed with HIV who have access to treatment can now lead a full, normal and healthy life. In an interview Gareth said, “HIV is not connected to death. It’s connected to life and living, and that is what I’m doing to the maximum. I am living life to the maximum”.
Recently, it was reported that new HIV diagnoses have fallen to the lowest rate in nearly 20 years. This decline is due mainly to increased levels of HIV testing, improved access to antiretroviral drugs such as pre and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), better education and wider distribution of condoms. Evidence concludes that those on effective medication cannot pass the virus to another person. Figures from 2017 suggest that there are an estimated 101,600 people living with HIV in the UK, and in 97% of those people the virus is undetectable. This means that those living with HIV can have a perfectly normal relationship with an HIV negative partner.
The Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity. Their Can’t Pass It On campaign aims to change society’s views on HIV and end the stigma. Better2Know works closely with the Terrence Higgins Trust, referring those diagnosed with HIV for invaluable support. We want to equip people with the knowledge about advanced medication and the incredible support networks available to urge as many people as possible to get tested for HIV.
It is thought that around 1 in 12 people living with HIV in the UK do not know that they have the virus. Better2Know can test you for HIV today. We can test you for HIV as early as ten days post-exposure. At many clinics, we can get you instant results for HIV. If you are worried about your sexual health, please phone our Sexual Health Advisors now. We are here to help you.
 Terrence Higgins Trust: Gareth Thomas: I’m living with HIV
 The Guardian: Gareth Thomas: ‘I’ve got HIV and it’s OK’
 NAT: HIV in the UK Statistics
 Avert: History of HIV and AIDS