All over Europe partners in the AIDS response are coming together to spearhead the continent’s first ever HIV testing week. From 22 to 29 November healthcare organisations and professionals, civil society activists and policy makers in more than 50 countries are promoting HIV testing to ensure that more people get to know their HIV status.
The theme for the week, taking place in the run-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, is Talk HIV. Test HIV. This is intended to encourage greater and more open dialogue about the socioeconomic benefits of HIV testing for individuals, communities and societies as a whole.
Organisers hope that people will take the opportunity to get tested for HIV. Long term goals also include encouraging healthcare professionals to offer HIV tests as part of routine care in appropriate settings and supporting community organisations in making HIV tests more widely available.
Currently an estimated one in three people living with HIV in Europe is unaware of their status, which has serious implications for both further HIV prevention and treatment. A recent study among 85 000 HIV-positive people on the continent found that more than half were diagnosed at a late stage, with around a third having advanced disease. Late diagnosis - and the delayed access to HIV treatment associated with it - is linked to an increased likelihood of dying from AIDS-related illness.