Saving Lives is a national charity with a simple aim: to reduce the stigma that still surrounds testing for the blood-borne viruses [BBVs] known as HIV and Hepatitis. We also focus on other Sexually Transmitted Infections [STIs].
We want to make testing for these conditions as straightforward and uncomplicated as any other clinical test. By donating to Saving Lives, you make possible our work in advocating for better testing provision - and also in providing it ourselves, via the postal self-sampling we developed to power our outreach and research, TakeATestUK.
Today’s medicines mean that HIV and other BBVs or STIs can, though some are lifelong, be treated. For example, people living with HIV who are on treatment are non-infectious, can work full-time, have sex and raise children, and live as long as someone who does not have HIV.
But one in five of those living with HIV in the UK do not even know they are infected. One million people die each year across the world because of liver failure or liver cancer caused by Hepatitis B or C – even though they are entirely treatable.
The main reasons people do not take the test are stigma and ignorance. People don’t want to be seen to take the test – and they often don’t think BBVs or STIs concern “people like them”.
Anyone who has unprotected sex can become infected with HIV. One in twelve people worldwide have Hepatitis B or C. These are issues for us all to consider.The stigma that causes late diagnosis is a killer – and that’s why getting tested is such a no-brainer.
Through mass-media campaigns, celebrity endorsements and with the help of people living with these viruses, we communicate positive messages about testing in the tabloid press, on TV, at the football stadium and in clubs and venues nationwide.
We will keep working until testing is routine – and anyone who needs treatment for their BBV or STI is getting it.