10th June 2020
Break the Chain: Time to Test Campaign
Covid-19 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity in the fight against HIV and syphilis. Since the introduction of social distancing measures in March, most people have not been having sex outside their household, which means much fewer people have been exposed to HIV and syphilis.
The Break the Chain: Time to test campaign, founded by 56 Dean Street (Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), seeks to maximise the current social distancing situation to identify everyone who has undiagnosed HIV so that they can start treatment early, improve their health, and prevent them from passing on HIV to anyone else.
Now is the time: we have an unprecedented opportunity to stop HIV transmissions
When someone first catches HIV, they are highly infectious and more likely to pass on HIV than normal. However, HIV infections take between 4-8 weeks before they can be identified through testing. With lockdown having started in March, there are many fewer people in this ‘blindspot’ who would otherwise be missed, and testing now could identify almost everyone who has the virus.
If those who test positive start effective treatment straight away, the virus will become undetectable and they can’t pass it on to anyone else. PHE will also provide the option for people to test for syphilis. The campaign is targeted towards black African people and Gay and Bisexual men who are at greater risk of HIV infection. Free and confidential tests are available here
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