THE North Cornwall MP has been publicly tested for HIV to raise awareness for the life-threatening disease.
This week Scott Mann attended the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, as part of National HIV Testing Week, which runs until February 11.
During his visit, Mr Mann tested himself for HIV using a self-test, and is now encouraging others to follow his lead.
Self-testing kits are free, easy and provides a result within just 15 minutes and shows how quick and easy testing for HIV now is.
Last year, almost half (44 per cent) of HIV diagnoses were classed as late – at a point when damage to the immune system had begun, which is why testing is vital.
Free HIV testing kits are available to order across England during National HIV Testing Week, with the option of a self-test and result within 15 minutes, or self-sampling option where you send a small blood sample to the lab.
The only way to know that you’re living with HIV is by getting tested. Effective treatment means you can live a long, healthy life with HIV and, once the virus is suppressed, HIV can’t be passed on to partners.
It’s estimated that around 4,500 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV. To meet the government’s target of ending new HIV cases by 2030, it will be essential to find everyone with undiagnosed HIV so they can access treatment and can’t pass it on.
Mr Mann said: “It was great to find out for myself how quick, easy and painless testing for HIV is. Anyone can be affected by HIV and so I am pleased to raise awareness about the importance of testing. Early testing and diagnosis are key to preventing new HIV transmissions. I hope that by testing publicly, I’m doing my bit to remove the stigma around HIV testing. There are now a range of testing options available, whether at a sexual health clinic or in the comfort of your own home.”
Richard Angell, chief executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, added: “We’re delighted that Scott took the time to have an HIV test and show just how quick and easy it is to be sure of your status. Most people who get tested will receive a negative result, but the only way to know is to test.
“Today, if you do test positive, effective treatment means you can live as long as anyone else, while also reducing the amount of virus in your blood to such low levels that you cannot pass on HIV.”
Find out more about National HIV Testing Week at www.startswithme.org.uk