Sarah Mulindwa – HIV is no longer a death sentence

14 December 2019

As a qualified sexual health nurse and star of E4’s The Sex Clinic, Sarah Mulwindwa is passionate about raising awareness of the importance of HIV testing. Sarah tells us why she got involved with National HIV Testing Week.

Sarah Mulindwa

It’s amazing to see all the new innovative ways there are to get tested nowadays. From postal test kits to walk-in clinics – there is no excuse not to get tested.

I remember my first time being tested. It was when I had just become a qualified nurse. Initially, I found the experience nerve-wracking, which I think is a rational emotion to feel when going through any kind of test. However, I was lucky enough to have an amazing doctor who talked me through the whole process and made me feel comfortable.

Getting tested at first may appear to be scary. But it’s important to remember that knowing your status is a lot better than not knowing. If you don’t know your status, this can not only have an impact on your health but can also put your partner(s) at risk unintentionally.

I want to make sure that I’m doing my part to help raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing amongst our community.

Not testing is not going to stop you from being HIV positive, but what it can do is delay treatment. Recent stats have proven that black African communities still have a worrying number of late diagnoses which we know is not good at all.

Late diagnosis means that you’ve tested positive for HIV after the virus has already started to damage your immune system, this is what we want to avoid. Which is why the sooner you get tested and get on treatment the better.

I want to make sure that I’m doing my part to help raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing amongst our community.

We have made great strides into developing effective HIV treatment however, stigma still seems to be stuck in the 80s. I think there is still such a stigma within our community because we have to take into account that many of the elder generations back in the 80s have witnessed loved ones die from AIDS-related illnesses. So their experience with HIV would be completely different to someone who was born into a world where effective HIV treatment was a thing.

Working as a qualified nurse in sexual health and HIV for over eight years now, I care for patients who are HIV positive, or who maybe anguish about contracting HIV. I educate my patients all the time about HIV, which is why I know for a fact that there are so many outdated myths that people still believe to be true.

I want to do my part to ensure that not only everyone is getting tested, but being educated on the realities of HIV in modern society. It’s no longer a death sentence.


Get tested

Do your bit to end transmission of HIV in the UK by getting tested.

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.

Lucian Msamati – Why I got Involved with National HIV Testing Week

4 December 2019

Star of stage and screen Lucian Msamati tells us why he’s so passionate about supporting the Give HIV the Finger campaign and normalising HIV testing amongst the British African community.

Lucian Msmati

Every time I test for HIV I am always slightly nervous. I think everyone is nervous when getting tested, especially if it’s your first time. But it’s important to know your status. There is nothing to be afraid of. Getting tested is a sure way to ensure that you’re making your sexual health a priority.

Testing for HIV is free, fast and most importantly confidential; you can now even do it at home thanks to free postal test kits. If you have HIV, the sooner you find out you have it, the better it is for your health. You can start treatment and it is much less likely to have a negative impact on your health or the length of your life.

HIV and AIDS have had a massive effect on the African communities both ‘at home’ and in the diasporas. Growing up in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, even now in an age and times where there is a lot more information and knowledge surrounding HIV and AIDS, we are still in many cases battling societal and cultural norms, taboos and habits that stigmatise HIV even though we know that with effective treatment HIV infection need no longer be the death sentence it once was.

If you have HIV, the sooner you find out you have it, the better it is for your health. You can start treatment and it is much less likely to have a negative impact on your health or the length of your life.

As a black British African man, I think it’s important for me to stand up and be counted. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to use my platform to raise awareness about issues that affect not just myself but also my community. I have lost friends and family to AIDS in the past and at times it’s still difficult for us to acknowledge this.

Knowing that if my family and friends who were affected by HIV were alive today they’d be able to go on effective HIV treatment is bittersweet for me. It’s amazing that we now have the treatment that means that people living with HIV can not only live long and healthy lives but can also not pass it onto their sexual partners.

I want to make sure I am playing my part to ensure that people within my community not only know this but are encouraged to get tested and know their status. If you do anything this National HIV Testing Week, I say go and get tested.

I’m proud to be part of the Give HIV the Finger campaign and play my part in debunking HIV stigma and encouraging people to get tested. It’s time for us to make a change within our communities and look after ourselves and each other by getting tested regularly.


Get tested

Do your bit to end transmission of HIV in the UK by getting tested.

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.