A person holding the red ribbon HIV and AIDS and a blood sample.

High profile case helps raise awareness after HIV testing week

The start to HIV testing week 2015 started with the Charlie Sheen revealing his HIV status to the world.

National HIV Testing Week, managed by Terrence Higgins Trust, is a national campaign that helps to increase testing among England’s key populations affected by HIV.

What Charlie’s Sheen revelation proved was the stigma that still surrounds HIV, despite it no longer being a death sentence.

Advances in medical treatment mean that an early, positive diagnosis doesn’t prevent a person living a normal, healthy life.

However, the longer it takes for diagnosis the greater the risk of death from the condition. According the the Yorkshire Evening Post, in 2014 613 people with HIV died. Most of them received a late diagnosis.

The goals of the HIV prevention programme are to increase testing to reduce the amount of undiagnosed and late diagnosis of HIV, support sustained condom use and behaviours which prevent HIV infection, tackle the stigma that surrounds HIV in society.

How can you contract HIV?

HIV can be contracted through a contaminated needle, exchanging blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk or by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Symptoms include fever, sore throat, body rash, tiredness, joint or muscle pain, swollen glands.

How can you protect yourself against HIV?

Always have protected sex with new partners and never share needles.

Will HIV always turn into AIDS?

No. AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection. With early diagnosis and effective treatment most people with HIV will not develop AIDS.

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