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.
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.
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.
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.