National HIV Testing Week is done and dusted for 2021! It was an incredible week, with more and more people supporting us than ever. To everyone who ordered a test, shared a social media post, or just took the time to educate themselves on HIV, everyone at Terrence Higgins Trust would like to say thank you.
The outpouring of support means our message can reach people who need to hear it, whether that’s people who are unknowingly vulnerable to HIV, those whose perceptions of HIV are tainted by stigma and misconception, or those whose lives have already been affected by HIV.
In this blog post, we’re highlighting some of this year’s National HIV Testing Week heroes, those who went above and beyond to use their platform to spread our message and most importantly, encouraged people to test for HIV. Let’s dive in!
This Morning favourite Dr Ranj showed Phil, Holly and everyone watching at home just how easy testing for HIV is by taking a test live on air. Not only that, but he talked about what HIV looks like today – the stats, the figures, and how different it is compared to the days of the crisis portrayed in It’s A Sin, which is so crucial if we’re going to educate people about HIV and end the stigma surrounding it.
Great British Bake Off star and podcaster Michael Chakraverty very generously let us take over his Instagram for the weekend to get our message out for National HIV Testing Week. The takeover included live, candid chats with people living with HIV including George Westwood and Mercy Shibemba and conversations about sexual health and LGBT+-inclusive education with our very own Liam Beattie. You can check these out on Michael’s IGTV and Instagram Story highlights – they’re well worth a watch!
Doctor and TV personality Dr Emeka wrote a wonderful guest blog for us. He talked about his introductions to HIV through stars like Magic Johnson and Eazy E, his understanding of HIV through medical school, and how regular testing for HIV remains vital for Black African communities.
Sana, a Nigerian sexologist and founder of Nigeria’s first sex-positive brand RevaginateNG, wrote a much-needed blog for It Starts With Me, where she called for increased testing among the Black African community and highlighted the importance of keeping good sexual health. It’s an especially important topic when you look at the high number of late HIV diagnoses within the Black African community.
Sex-positive journalist Gina Tonic called for her Instagram followers to get tested for HIV while at home and demonstrating just how effortless the process of testing really is. Women make up a third of those living with HIV in the UK so encouraging them to test this National HIV Testing Week was crucial.
Russell T Davies, Nathaniel Hall and the It’s A Sin cast
it's national HIV testing week!! let's celebrate our progress in fighting this virus by taking a free test and knowing our status. Go check @THTorguk for more info✨🌈 #nationalhivtestingweek #ItsASin https://t.co/FoPsojEESv pic.twitter.com/Uj7tt4iRuc
— olly alexander ✨ (@alexander_olly) February 1, 2021
It’s A Sin has undeniably had a huge impact on the public’s awareness and interest in HIV. Since the show’s debut, we’ve seen an incredible increase in the number of orders for HIV testing kits. So we’d like to say a few thank-yous: to Russell T Davies for creating such a powerful representation of an often forgotten period in history, to the talented cast for bringing these important stories to life, and to everyone who worked on the show and made it such a success.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, and I'm living loudly and proudly with HIV."
It's A Sin actor @NathanielJHall says the hit show is helping to "flip the script" around HIV - and that he waited 15 years to tell his family after he was diagnosed aged 16. pic.twitter.com/jUyNTnktlg
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) February 5, 2021
Outside of the show, Olly Alexander’s video encouraging people to test for HIV had a huge impact on getting our message out, as did Nathaniel Hall’s interview opening up about his own HIV diagnosis with Channel 4 news.
Writer and influential trans figure Juno Dawson used Instagram to talk about how important testing for HIV is, saying it’s 'always best practice' as she encouraged her followers to test from home. Other figures that used social media to encourage their followers to test include Great British Bake Off stars David Atherton and Tom Hetherington, TOWIE star Charlie King, Ru Paul's Drag Race queen Tia Kofi and activist Munroe Bergdorf. Thank you to everyone who used their platform to promote the cause this year.
Adult entertainer John Thomas and medical coach Jamie Ray are just two of the many people living with HIV who publicly shared their stories and experiences this National HIV Testing Week. Even though everyone’s experiences are different, by sharing them, these stories have opened a lot of people’s eyes to the realities of HIV today, dispelled myths and misconceptions, and encouraged people to test – which is incredible. Thank you to John, Jamie and everyone else who shared their story for your openness and bravery.
We wish we could’ve included everyone who helped make National HIV Testing Week 2021 the great success it was but the blog post would be neverending! Let’s stop here.
Testing for HIV is still more important than ever if we’re going to reach our goal of ending HIV transmissions by 2030. Find out where you can get a free test now.