Nottingham Star Froch Supports Call for More HIV Testing

By May 22, 2013 January 28th, 2015 No Comments

Nottingham-born world champion boxer Carl Froch is supporting a new HIV awareness campaign in the city.

Froch is supporting the national charity Saving Lives, which has joined forces withNottinghamdoctors to bring a clear message to the public: HIV testing saves lives. Posters and leaflets featuring images of Froch and other athletes, including Premiership footballers and London 2012 medal-winners, will be appearing in GP practices across the city.

One in four of those with HIV in theUKdo not know they’re infected. This means they can’t access today’s life-saving medication, and may be passing on their infection to others. Modern medicine means people living with HIV can have long, healthy lives – but only if they are diagnosed, and treated as early as possible.

“HIV can be symptomless for a long time,” explains Dr Ashini Jayasuriya, theNottinghamCityHospitalwho asked Saving Lives to develop a campaign for the city. “That means it’s very easy for people not to be diagnosed until it’s too late for today’s life-saving treatments to have their best effect. People are still dying of HIV in theUK- but only because they test too late.”

Nottinghamhas one of the highest rates of late diagnosis of HIV in the country – nearly three quarters of people diagnosed with HIV test too late to get the most out of treatment. Saving Lives works with doctors nationwide to raised awareness of HIV testing, and combat the myths and stigma which still surround HIV.

“If people like me who are in the public eye can attract attention to a topic which people might otherwise ignore, that can only be a good thing,” says Carl Froch, who has signed up as a Saving Lives ambassador.

Dr Steve Taylor is an HIV Specialist atBirminghamHeartlandsHospitaland Medical Director of Saving Lives. “There’s still a lot of stigma around HIV,” he explains. “One of the things our campaigns and sporting advocates help do is correct some commonly-held, out-dated myths that perpetuate this stigma which make the lives of people living with HIV very difficult.”

The campaign features striking imagery of sporting stars including Froch, Aston Villa star striker Darren Bent, and London 2012 medal-winner Sally Walton. Material promoting HIV testing will be appearing in GP practices acrossNottingham, directing people to HIV testing services in the city. There will also be an effort in the city’s prisons.

A similar campaign conducted at the end of 2012 inBirminghamwas cited by 16% of 1800 clinic attendees as part of the reason for taking the test. Half of those respondents had no other exposure to sexual health messages in the previous 3 months.

“The message is simple, really,” Froch adds. “Just get tested; it could save your life!”

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