What should we be saying to those most determined to avoid a test for HIV?


You may have noticed an increase in the amount of ‘encouragement’ in the press and elsewhere recently for Gay men to test more often for HIV.  At Yorkshire MESMAC we have been busy organising much of this activity locally, along with supporting those who have already decided to take the test.

We still have our work cut out though as around a third of Gay and Bisexual men have still never tested for HIV.  Some have probably just not gotten around to it.  Others, however, are motivated to avoid the test by a very simple emotion: FEAR.  Frightened of a positive result for a whole host of reasons, not least being stigmatised and rejected by others.  So what should we, their brothers, sisters, friends and lovers be saying to those who are most reluctant to test, to those who have never tested and say things like ‘I’d rather not know’?

Well for a start off let’s give them a break, it is a scary thing this HIV!  Though not, perhaps, as scary as some of the alternatives.  What Yorkshire MESMAC would say is:

  1. You are not alone – fears and concerns about testing for HIV are common and understandable.  Please come and talk to us, in confidence, about yours.
  2. We are here to support you before, during and after the test, whatever the result.

If you are negative:

  1. Peace of Mind could be 20 minutes away.  Our rapid result tests give you a result in 20 minutes

If you are positive:

  1. HIV treatments promise a long and healthy life; the sooner you test the more effective they will be.
  2. HIV treatments significantly reduce the chances the virus will be passed on to someone else; you will be less infectious.

So here we are in 2012: where once there was only fear and death, we now offer hope for the future: for the individuals most directly affected, and for our community as a whole.

In fact evidence has been strengthening for some time that currently available treatments used correctly and in innovative new ways, along with the normalisation of regular HIV testing amongst gay men, could in themselves be the only weapons we need to defeat the HIV epidemic.  Be warned though, late diagnosis is behind most of the continuing AIDS related deaths in this country.  That’s an exclusive club you don’t want to be joining.

The National HIV prevention programme for England has recently launched its ‘National HIV Testing Week’.  It will take place in the run up to World Aids Day from Friday 23rd November until the following Friday 30th November.  Yorkshire MESMAC will be throwing open the doors to its Testing Times Service that week.

So come down and get tested yourself, and why not check out what your friends are intending to do as well.  They might just need to know they have your support whatever the result.  Let’s do this together!

To be part of the solution to HIV and AIDS, and for loads of additional information about the exciting new developments bringing hope and new energy to the fight against HIV, why not ‘like’ our new HIV Peer Educators page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hivpeereducators .

To book an HIV test in Yorkshire you can ring Yorkshire MESMAC on:

0113 2444 209 (Leeds)

01924 211 116 (Wakefield)

01274 395815 (Bradford)

01904 620400 (North Yorkshire)

or contact your local GUM (Sexual Health) clinic, click here for details: http://mesmac.co.uk/gum

Anywhere in England and Wales

You can also access free, confidential HIV testing services at any GUM (Sexual Health) clinic.  For information on services in England and Wales click here: http://www.tht.org.uk/sexual-health/Clinics-and-Services/Local-services-and-clinics



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