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48% of Brits feel uncomfortable kissing people with HIV

A RECENT survey commissioned by Britain’s leading HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust uncovered shocking levels of HIV stigma that still exist in society today.

Almost half (48%) of brits would feel uncomfortable kissing someone living with HIV, while 38% would feel uncomfortable going on a date with someone who’s HIV positive.

The Can’t Pass It On campaign aims to stop HIV stigma in its tracks by sharing the message that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass it on. If everyone knew this, Terrence Higgins Trust believe we could bring an end to stigma around HIV. Not only that, but we could stop HIV transmissions altogether.

In the UK a huge 97% of those diagnosed and on treatment are virally suppressed, which means levels of virus in the blood are so low that they can’t pass on HIV. The landmark PARTNER and PARTNER 2 studies provide the medical evidence that people with an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV.

"Progress in the treatment for HIV is one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine," says Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust and National Advisor for LGBT Health at NHS England.

"In just a couple of decades effective treatment means a HIV diagnosis has gone from a virtual death sentence to us now saying with confidence – and without a doubt – that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus on to their sexual partners."

Despite this being confirmed by two major scientific studies, 41% of Brits believe everyone living with HIV can pass on the virus.

The Can’t Pass It On campaign features Charity Nyirenda who can be seen promoting the stigma busting message on billboards across some of London’s most popular train stations and bus stops.

"Black African people like me are more affected by HIV but knowledge among my community remains low, which is something I’m keen to change,’ says Charity Nyirenda who was diagnosed back in 2003.

"I’ve been described as having ‘AIDS’, which isn’t the case – HIV and AIDS are two different things and I’m living well with HIV.

"I’m proud to be part of this work with Terrence Higgins Trust to bust myths and shout loud and proud that effective treatment means I can’t pass on HIV. There’s no reason to treat me or anyone else living with HIV any differently."

For more information about the Can’t Pass It On campaign visit and follow the #CantPassItOn hashtag on social.

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