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HIV: black straight men face highest rate of late diagnosis

TESTING: HIV self test kits, where you test at home and get a result within 15 minutes, are now sold on the high street

NEW FIGURES published by Public Health England (PHE) show that black African heterosexual men are the most likely demographic to be diagnosed of HIV late.

The study revealed that of all black African heterosexual men who were diagnosed in 2017, a huge 72% were diagnosed late.

While the majority of both men and women from black African communities were diagnosed late (58%), the figures also show that new diagnoses of black African heterosexual men and women have continued to decline.

Takudzwa Mukiwa from Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "The drop in new HIV diagnoses in the UK is great news and clearly shows we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic in this country. But we need to work harder and look more broadly to make sure we accelerate the decline in new diagnoses in all communities, especially within the black African community.

“The fact that black African people are some of the most likely to be diagnosed late is worrying and unacceptable. Early diagnosis means people can access life saving treatment as early as possible before the virus has done damage to their immune system. Public Health England has noted that those diagnosed late would have lived with HIV without knowing for between three to five years therefore increasing the risk of passing on the virus unknowingly.

“We can stop late diagnoses if we test more regularly rather than waiting to be ill to get tested. It’s a good idea to test at least once a year or more regularly if you are changing sexual partners.”

Late diagnosis means that you've tested positive for HIV after the virus has already started to damage your immune system. People diagnosed late would in some cases have lived with HIV for a long time without knowing, increasing the risk of passing it on to others unknowingly.

“Testing is quick, easy and confidential, and there are many options of how to get tested. Now HIV self test kits, where you test at home and get a result within 15 minutes, are sold on the high street. We’re also offering these tests for free to people from black African communities.

“We can deliver to any address of your choice or you can use the click and collect option where you can collect from a choice of thousands of places across the country.

“You can live a long, healthy life with HIV – but you need to get tested and access the treatment you need to live well. Whatever the result, testing is always the best thing to do.”

For more information, visit the Terrence Higgins Trust at www.tht.org.uk.

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