‘I’m not afraid of HIV’

Besi Besemar September 20, 2016

Groundbreaking HIV prevention campaign uses bold language to tackle the fear and stigma that stops people getting tested.


It Starts With Me – relaunches this week, using real voices to tackle fear head on to show how people can test and protect themselves against HIV.

Cary James
Cary James

“Nowadays,  the HIV situation is different than it was 20 years ago”,  said Cary James,  Head of Health Improvement Programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust. “Thanks to medical advances it doesn’t have to stop you living a full and active life.  And we now know that if you’re on effective treatment, you cannot pass it on to others. This is huge news.

“That means our language around HIV must evolve and become more empowering and positive. We want to inspire people to test and protect themselves from HIV because it is the best thing they can do for their health and their community. We don’t want people to be afraid, we want them to be in control.”

Ads across press, social media, high profile billboards and public transport will include the words ‘I’m not afraid of HIV’, featuring real people such as Adam from Essex telling their personal stories.

Adam said: “It’s really annoying that people still have that stigma against HIV. People shouldn’t be scared to get tested because knowing you’ve got HIV is better than not knowing.”

The campaign is relaunching this month and aims to reach the most affected groups including gay men (and other men who have sex with men) and black African people.

Black Africans make up 2% of the UK population, but last year accounted for 1 in 5 of all HIV diagnoses.

Meanwhile, gay (and other men who have sex with men) account for an estimated 43% of those living with HIV in the UK, and more than half (55%) of all new diagnoses.

One in six people living with HIV do not know they have it – and are therefore likely to pass on the virus. On the other hand, those who get a positive result and get onto effective treatment cannot pass on HIV to others.

That means HIV is more likely to be transmitted from someone whose last test was negative, than someone living with HIV who is on effective treatment. The challenge is now to bust the stigma that stops people getting tested, according to experts.

Cary James added: “Everyone has the power to stop HIV, simply by getting tested, taking medication if they need it, and by protecting themselves. It starts with each one of us.”

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