Dr Ranj – Why I’m involved with National HIV Testing Week
We caught up with NHS doctor and TV personality Dr Ranj Singh to find out why he’s supporting National HIV Testing Week.
Give HIV The Finger is one of the most prominent and popular campaigns that we have in the UK regarding HIV testing. I see the posters everywhere on the bus, on the train and even at work. I got involved in this year’s campaign because as a gay man from an ethnic minority I represent both groups that are drastically affected by HIV in the UK.
From an ethnic minority perspective, we are less likely to come forward, get tested. Even talking about sexual health, in general, is something many just don’t do. Sadly because talking about sex is still a taboo in many communities, many are still very reluctant to get tested and/or get on treatment.
I have wanted to get involved in this campaign for years, and this year the timing was just perfect. I wanted to offer my support to a cause that I believe we all need to be talking more about. It’s great to know that I am now in the position where I can utilise my platform to help educate people on the importance of getting tested and knowing your status.
Sometimes it takes seeing someone who looks like you being represented in campaigns like this to give you the push to go and get tested, and if seeing my face on a poster can encourage at least one person to get tested then I’ll be happy. It’s unfortunate that people’s misconceptions of HIV can deter them from getting tested. Even though we have made so many advances since the 80s, the stigma still remains.
I have looked after patients who have HIV, some of my close friends are living with HIV and I must confess that when I was a lot younger due to my lack of knowledge, my opinion of what it was like to live with HIV was clouded by fear. But as society’s understanding and perceptions have changed, so have mine.
Getting tested is nothing to be worried about, I’ve been tested in the past and it’s quick and easy. You’ll be in a better situation knowing your status than not knowing. If you do test positive it’s important to remember HIV is not a death sentence anymore. With effective treatment, people living with HIV can not only live long health lives but they can’t pass it on to others. So no matter what the results are you’re better off knowing either way. You have a responsibility to yourself and your partner(s) to ensure that you look after your sexual health, and part of doing so is getting tested regularly.
Do your bit to end transmission of HIV in the UK by getting tested this National HIV Testing Week, 16 – 22 November 2019.
It is extremely important to get tested for HIV regularly as it is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV or not. If you have HIV, the earlier you find out the sooner you can access life-saving treatment and support enabling you to live a long and healthy life.
In most cases, HIV is passed on because people are not aware they have it and the longer you live with undiagnosed HIV the more likely it is for it to seriously damage your immune system.