For the past 4 years, my friend Calum McSwiggan and the Terence Higgins Trust conduct a campaign all about the importance of knowing your HIV status, and to regularly get checked for sexually transmitted infections, aside from HIV.
I unknowingly got their attention with a video I made a few years back which was quite… to the point, shall we say? I pretty much slated the sexual practices of todays gay youth, who do so in sheer ignorance of the pandemic that has gone before.
And ever since I have been part of this movement, this week of awareness, though it should never be restricted to one week – HIV testing should become a regular occurrence in everyone’s life, be you gay or straight, man or woman, non-binary or every other identity within the spectrum. HIV is NOT a ‘gay disease’, and is equally as susceptible within heterosexual relationships as homosexual; not to mention through sharing intravenous equipment amongst drug users. It is not as discriminatory as those who once labelled it the “gay cancer”, and will act exactly the same way, regardless of who you are… if you contract the virus.
This year, I want to keep it simple – no gimmicks, no silliness in a video to further a point; just THE point.
Go get tested.
Not just for HIV, but a, what I like to call, full MOT – a full sexual health check up. This is the fundamental problem, particularly within the gay community, due to progression with treatments and other preventative drugs; people believe they can have unprotected sex simply because they are on PrEP, or are HIV+ but on the correct treatment and are the desired “undetectable” status. This may be okay (though not 100% safe) for HIV, but there are plenty of other STI’s that, if left untested, undiagnosed and untreated, can cause very severe problems in the long term.
Don’t fall into the group that are naive enough to think they are untouchable due to a pill, or that “it won’t happen to me”, as I can tell you now… EVERYONE thinks that.
The test for HIV is so simple – rapid tests are simply a finger prick which can take 20 minutes to get a result.
Or you can get a full blood test which will test for things like Syphilis, as well as HIV.
It’s worth it for a full MOT that takes 10 minutes.
Don’t be caught out…
’til next time.