A new campaign that aims to raise the awareness of the issue of undiagnosed HIV+ gay men will be launched on December 1st,” World AIDS Day.
The campaign, ‘THIVK you’re still negative?’ will include adverts in the gay press, condom packs, posters and scratch cards. The campaign is funded by the Department of Health.
Official figures put the number of men of gay men in Britain who have HIV but are unaware of their status at 10,000.
Across the UK 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV and estimates suggest this figure is as high as 1 in 10 in London, according to the Health Protection Agency.
47% of HIV infected gay men who visit a sexual health clinic leave without being tested for HIV.
Late diagnosis is the most important factor associated with HIV-related morbidity and mortality in the UK. It can reduce treatment options and obviously has an effect on onward transmission of the virus.
Sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust said many gay men are still being diagnosed late, at the point where they should already be on treatment.
Marc Thompson, Deputy Head of Health Promotion at THT, said:
“A lot of gay men who’ve had unprotected sex assume they’re still HIV negative but thousands who make that assumption are wrong.
“Some are relying on an old test result or just presume that their partners would tell them if they had HIV.
“With around a quarter of gay men with HIV unaware they are infected it’s a dangerous presumption.
“We hope this campaign will encourage men to think about their risk and if necessary, consider getting tested so they know for sure.”
THT and partner organisations will be taking the campaign into gay bars and clubs over World AIDS Day.
Men who would like to talk to someone about their own risk and the chance they may have HIV can call THT Direct on 0845 12 21 200. Details of testing clinics can also be found on www.tht.org.uk