Some 59 MPs from across the political divide have agreed to take an HIV test to raise awareness for Public Health England’s (PHE) National HIV Testing Week (1st – 7th Feb 2021), encouraging their constituents to test for HIV and learn the facts about the virus.
The campaign by the Terrence Higgins Trust promotes HIV testing at home during lockdown. The campaign – ‘Give HIV the finger: a finger prick test is all it takes’ – will encourage MPs to post about their experiences on social media and highlight how to access a test.
Labour’s Shadow First Secretary and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and the Paymaster General and Conservative Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, are among those participating. Owen Mumford’s local Oxford East Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anneliese Dodds, is also championing the campaign.
National HIV Testing Week is a campaign to promote regular testing and help reduce the number of people living undiagnosed with HIV and those who are diagnosed late. More than two out of every five people were diagnosed late in 2019, according to PHE data, leading to poorer long-term health outcomes and an eightfold increased risk of death.
Anneliese Dodds said: “I’m proud to support National HIV Testing Week by playing my part and having an HIV test. Huge advances in science now mean it’s possible to test for HIV in less than 15 minutes – just like I did. There’s still around 6,700 people living with HIV in the UK who don’t know their status and often it’s fear and stigma that hold them back. We all need to challenge this, and normalising testing is one way to do just that.
“The Simplitude ByMe test provided by Terrence Higgins Trust was easy and quick to use. Embracing new technologies, like the test from local Oxfordshire firm, Owen Mumford, will help us make vital progress towards the goal of ending new cases of HIV within the decade.”
Explaining that while there are many ways to test for HIV and the most important message is simply to get tested, Leanne Adam, Marketing Manager at Owen Mumford, said the safest way at present is to test at home or to self-test:
“Being at home should not be a barrier to testing. In fact, now is a great time to test, find out your status and support eradicating this disease. We are proud to support this important campaign by providing the Simplitude ByMe self-test devices, which highlight how easy and convenient it is to test at home.”
Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, also agreed that testing for HIV has never been easier: “We now have an opportunity to end new cases of HIV by 2030 and it starts with more people knowing their status. The vast majority of people who test get a negative result, but for those that do test positive there’s a huge amount of support available to help process that diagnosis. I’d like to thank all MPs for their support of National HIV Testing Week and Owen Mumford for donating self-test kits for Parliamentarians to use. MPs have a key role in helping break down barriers to testing and showing it should be no different from having an eye test or going to the doctors. A test is something to be proud of.”