HIV statistics are starting to tell a new story. The headlines decry;
Massive drop in London HIV rates may be due to internet drugs (New Scientist)
For the first time in a generation people are openly contemplating the end of HIV; no longer only whispering about the possibility, as if to do so might somehow jinx it.
While PreP has understandably grabbed the headlines as a game-changer, the decline in new diagnoses can also be attributed to the greater effectiveness of treatment as prevention. A landmark medical study last year showed that those taking effective HIV treatment have effectively zero risk of passing the virus on. Undetectable = Untransmissable. Joint with more effective and widespread testing, the efforts of scientists, doctors, activists and individuals over so many years, seem to be starting to bear fruit. We are not there yet though.
There are over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK and black gay/bi men are disproportionately represented among them. They too have a part to play in ending the HIV epidemic through treatment. Treatment that also means so much more than just prevention; effective treatment is crucial to the quality of life of people living with HIV, and the prospect of living long, healthy and fulfilling lives, regardless of the virus.
As the NHS Prep Impact Trial (finally) gets underway, BlackOut has been vocal about ensuring there is access to PreP for black gay/bi men. We also wanted to support those living with HIV in accessing the most effective treatment for them. That’s why we were pleased to work with Gilead Sciences and community advisors from across the HIV/ community sectors to devise and launch Treating Me Right to empower people living with HIV to know their healthcare rights and, where possible, be actively involved in managing their relationship with their doctors and healthcare specialists.
Treating Me Right provides a simple guide to patient rights in the NHS, encourages people to speak up about their specific needs, and gives some tips about how to get the most out of a visit to the clinic. Most importantly, the campaign puts the voices of people living with HIV at its front and centre.
Check out www.treatingmeright.co.uk for further information