I test - because HIV can affect anyone

Blog: “Be part of the generation that stops HIV”

As part of National HIV testing week (6-12 February 2023) Advanced Public Health Practitioner, James Woolgar explains more about the annual campaign and how fighting stigma and providing better access to testing and treatment will see us eliminate HIV within the next decade.

This year, the national HIV testing campaign returns with a new strapline, ‘I Test’ – which is followed by a line exploring the different reasons people are choosing to get tested.

These messages are powerful and remind us that HIV can affect anyone and everyone. This campaign is all about reducing stigma and discrimination.

People can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms, so testing is the only way to know your status – it’s quick, free, confidential and easy.

You may have heard that Liverpool is a ‘Fast Track City’. Since 2018, we’ve been part of a global network of cities, who have joined together with a common goal – ending all new transmissions of HIV by 2030.

In Liverpool we’re determined to make a difference to people’s lives and we’re making incredible progress, having recently achieved ‘triple 95’ targets.

This means that:

  • 95% of people in Liverpool who are living with HIV now know their status (and have accessed testing)
  • 99% of those people living with an HIV diagnosis are receiving treatment and care
  • 98% of those being treated are now virally suppressed – meaning they cannot transmit HIV to others – and that the virus is undetectable

There are currently 893 people of all ages in Liverpool living with HIV – comparable with other large core cities, and our testing offer locally is very good.

We urge people to utilise the free online kits to make HIV testing and knowing their status ‘the norm.’

Prior to the ‘Fast-Track Cities’ programme, it was estimated that up to 115 people across Liverpool were infected but unaware of their status – this has now dropped to around half of that number.

Liverpool is moving rapidly towards HIV eradication – something that could come as soon as 2027.

This is amazing progress – but there is still work to do – especially around late diagnosis.

Half of people recently diagnosed were diagnosed late, meaning they didn’t start treatment as early as they could, and could have become unnecessarily ill.

We’re responding to this and will continue to improve our HIV testing coverage and uptake across the city – getting us one step closer to beating the virus.

Liverpool City Council works in partnership with NHS partners (Axess Sexual Health) and charities like Sahir House, BHA, LGBT Foundation and George House Trust to deliver HIV outreach, educations and engagement programmes.

This work has the importance of testing at its core and is key to reducing the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and those diagnosed late.

We’re also working hard to increase access to the game changing prevention drug PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) – which prevents HIV transmission and is another vital tool in ensuring HIV elimination.

Although there is still no cure for HIV, early diagnosis and treatment means that people living with HIV can expect to live a normal life span.

Anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support – enabling them to stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else.

Get tested this HIV testing week and be part of the generation that stops HIV.”

Order a test

As part of National testing week (6-12 February 2023) people can order a free HIV testing kit at https://www.startswithme.org.uk/

Local people can also access free confidential testing around the year via our integrated sexual health service, Axess – https://www.axess.clinic/order-a-test/

Liverpool Waterfront