Over a fifth of straight Brits believe they are unlikely to contract HIV despite rising cases among heterosexuals, new data has revealed.
According to the latest Government figures, straight people now account for almost half of all new cases.
New research reveals 73% of straight Brits have never tested for HIV even though 40% of all new diagnoses are heterosexual people.
Despite this rise, straight Brits are unaware of their increased risk of infection, with over 1,000,000 believing they cannot contract the virus.
At the start of HIV Testing Week, Newfoundland Diagnostics is encouraging the nation to get tested and has introduced a new HIV test, which is easy to use at home and is available at Tesco at an affordable price.
The study conducted by Newfoundland Diagnostics explores the attitudes, behaviours and perceptions of HIV in the UK, highlighting a need for better education and awareness around the virus, with over a fifth of straight Brits (21%) stating they believe they are unlikely to contract HIV, leading them not to test for HIV.
Other reasons for heterosexual people not testing for HIV include never having unprotected sex (18%), not having access to an HIV test (4%) and not being bothered to test for HIV (3%).
This lack of education has seen a staggering 73% of heterosexual Brits having never tested for the virus, ironically echoing the infamous tombstone ads of the 80s – ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’.
The research exposes a clear hangover of the AIDS epidemic despite advances made by popular media such as Channel 4’s ‘It’s A Sin’, which led to a sharp increase in HIV-related Google searches including ‘Can women get AIDS?’ (2,150%) following the first episode’s airing.
Despite media attempts to change perceptions around HIV, it’s clear there is more educational work to be done to improve the nation’s testing habits and routines.
As the diagnosis rate amongst straight Brits rises, testing figures for HIV remain staggeringly low. Notably, only 1 in 11 (9%) of Brits have been tested multiple times for HIV.
With these alarming figures, Newfoundland Diagnostics is aiming to change attitudes towards testing, raising awareness of the education issue and providing access to tests in a bid to help the nation know their status.
Frederick Manduca, co-founder of Newfoundland Diagnostics, said: “Whilst testing does seem to be increasing in the long-term, these findings reveal there remains a substantial amount of ignorance towards testing and its importance amongst heterosexual people.
“Our aim is to use our platform to begin chipping away at the misconceptions surrounding HIV, making it clear that HIV does not discriminate based on sex, gender or sexuality, and that there is power in knowing your status.
“Let’s use this year’s HIV Testing Week to continue changing perceptions, raising awareness and fighting stigma to eradicate this virus from existence.”
Top 5 reasons straight Brits are not testing for HIV
1. Believe they are unlikely to contract HIV (22%)
2. Never had unprotected sex (18%)
3. Have not had access to HIV test (4%)
4. Believe they cannot contract HIV (3%)
5. Can’t be bothered to test for HIV (3%)
Common Qs on HIV answered by Newfoundland Diagnostics
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which targets the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight everyday infections and diseases.
If left untreated, HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). While AIDS cannot be transmitted from one person to another, HIV can.
Thanks to today’s medicine, those with HIV can lead full, healthy lives provided they receive and maintain treatment upon early diagnosis.
What is HIV Testing Week?
National HIV Testing Week runs from Monday 5 February until Sunday 11 February and is coordinated by the Terrence Higgins Trust.
The annual campaign aims to promote HIV testing, raise awareness about HIV, and reduce the stigma surrounding the virus.
The week-long event encourages individuals to get tested for HIV, know their status, and take steps to protect their health.
Who should test for HIV?
Despite a focus on gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men testing for HIV, anyone who has unprotected sex, exchanges bodily fluids or shares needles should regularly test for HIV. HIV can infect anyone regardless of sexuality, race, gender, sex or age.
How do I test for HIV?
All HIV tests will check your blood for any blood-borne diseases and are available as part of a regular STI check-up.
You can visit a GUM clinic or sexual health practice for a test, or you can test at home with a self-test such as Newfoundland Diagnostics’ HIV test.
How do people get HIV?
HIV is found in the body fluids of someone living with HIV, including semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood and breast milk.
The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is through having anal or vaginal sex without a condom. HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
Newfoundland Diagnostics HIV Test
The world’s first integrated, finger-prick blood test to screen for HIV. The at-home self-test detects antibodies to HIV Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) and/or HIV Virus Type 2 (HIV-2) in blood.
The Newfoundland HIV Test is an easy-to-use screening test for HIV that provides a quick and accurate result in just 15 minutes with a simple finger-prick sample. This test provides >99% accuracy.
Newfoundland’s test is the easiest test on the market for patients, with a study finding that 90% of participants found the test easier to use than a multi-component test kit.
This is thanks to an all-in-one test that requires low blood volume and fewer user steps resulting in fewer errors.
Other tests available online have multiple components with three individual bottles to transfer blood samples through.
Not only does this make it a confusing experience for the patient, but there is a higher chance of potential contamination and misuse, affecting the final result.
For information on when and how to use the test, please visit https://www.newfoundland.io/tests/hiv