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HIV on the rise among straight UK adults

Health and Mental Health

HIV on the rise among straight UK adults

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:

“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%)

The Newfoundland Diagnostics HIV Test (RRP: £17.99 for one test)

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