Curtis has been an ambassador for the charity since its launch five years ago and is currently its patron. This year he is helping Saving Lives send a simple message: stigma kills, and testing saves lives.
“There are lots of myths about HIV,” Curtis says. “That means people can be nervous about getting a test.”
One in five of those living with HIV in the UK do not know they are infected. Late diagnosis of HIV is associated with poorer health outcomes.
“Today’s medicines mean that a person can live a full and long life with HIV,” says Dr Steve Taylor, Saving Lives’ Medical Director and a lead consultant in HIV at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital. “But early diagnosis is key – and that’s why this year we’re stressing that getting tested is crucial.”
Anyone can order a free home HIV testing kit via www.takeatestuk.com, a website run by Saving Lives. The kits are confidential and arrive in plain packaging; people can take a sample at home, and send it off to Public Health England for analysis. Results are received within days, and NHS advisors are on hand for any questions.
“The great thing about home testing through Saving Lives is that it’s the same quality as going to a clinic – but many people will feel a lot more comfortable in their own home,” the Hull skipper explains.
“HIV testing saves lives,” Curtis adds. “Getting tested just keeps you healthy. End of story.”
People who wish to get their free home HIV testing kit can log on to www.takeatestuk.com and enter the code SAVE16 when ordering.