A shocking number of straight Brits believe they can’t contract HIV

A worrying number of straight Brits think they can’t contract HIV, despite rising cases among heterosexuals, a new study has revealed. 

HIV Testing Week, held from 5 to 11 February and coordinated by the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, celebrates 10 years of encouraging the nation to ‘know your status’ this year. 

Over the last decade, the fight against HIV has been transformed by medical breakthroughs such as PrEP, and the UK government’s aim of achieving zero HIV transmissions and zero HIV-related stigma by the year 2030 is on track. 

But, according to government data, HIV is on the rise for heterosexual people, who are accounting for almost half (40 per cent) of all new cases. 

HIV can infect anyone regardless of sexuality, race, gender, sex or age.

Newfoundland Diagnostics – a leading UK provider of diagnostic tests and medical devices – conducted a study that highlights the need for better awareness around HIV, especially among straight people.

It found that 3 per cent of Brits believe they can’t contract the virus – a figure equivalent to hundreds of thousands of UK adults. The same proportion of heterosexuals said they “can’t be bothered” to test for HIV. 

The study also found 73 per cent of straight Brits have never tested for the virus, while only nine per cent are being tested multiple times for the virus. 

Reasons straight Brits are neglecting getting tested include 21 per cent of them believing they are unlikely to contract HIV, 18 per cent never having unprotected sex and four per cent not having access to a HIV test. 

In a bid to eradicate reasons for not testing, Newfoundland Diagnostics offer an easy-to-use private screening test for HIV that is available via its website and in Tesco stores in the UK.

Frederick Manduca, co-founder of Newfoundland Diagnostics, said: “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.” 

HIV testing is provided free on the NHS in the UK, with home testing and sampling kits also available. Find your local sexual health service.

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