Jamie, who trained at the Royal Ballet, is proud to be part of this campaign – so proud that he’s made it a family affair, with his Mum, Lindsay, joining him as the new faces of National HIV Testing Week. Lindsay, from Wimbledon, is really supportive of Jamie’s advocacy around HIV testing and awareness, and this year is getting involved herself.
“I’m lucky that I know a fair bit about HIV from a family friend who works in HIV support,” says Jamie. “But there are still loads of people out there, including in the gay community, who don’t know what undetectable means or how often they should get tested.
“People still don’t want to talk about being HIV positive either, which shows how much more there is to be done to tackle stigma. I hope one day we can live in a world where people can be positive and proud. More people are starting to talk about their status – including the fantastic people starring in the National HIV Testing Week campaign – but we need more positive role models.
“I’ve had partners tell me their HIV status but not straight away. I’ve asked them why they didn’t say it sooner, and they often say the stigma. They are worried about reaction from friends and family, and the impact it might have on work.
“But the fact is, in this day and age, if you know you have HIV you can get onto effective treatment, live a long and normal life, and know that you can’t pass it on to anyone else.”
“Testing regularly for HIV is important as, if your result is reactive (indicating positive), you’re able to access treatment and prevent transmission earlier and live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, the stigma that still surrounds HIV and testing means that people are often anxious, afraid or embarrassed to take a test, rather than see it as empowering. National HIV Testing Week is an important campaign, as it allows our community to come together and talk about what we can do together to support those living with HIV and to end stigma.”
“I’m proud to be one of the faces, and one of the fingers, of this year’s National HIV Testing Week. As a gay man, it’s important for me to be aware of HIV and test regularly. I hope we’re getting to the point where testing for HIV is seen in the same way as a check up at the dentist or an MOT for your car.”
“Its important for all of us to get tested and know our HIV status. It’s really easy and quick to have a test now, you can do it at a clinic or even at home.”
“Testing regularly for HIV is really important. If you know your status you can live a long and healthy life. If my status changes I want to know as soon as possible so I can adapt, get on medication and help protect others.”
Pictures by Thomas Knights
You can find out more about National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 18 – 24 November, and order a free postal test kit by visiting startswithme.org.uk
National HIV Testing Week is co-ordinated by Terrence Higgins Trust as part of HIV Prevention England (HPE) with the support and participation of hundreds of clinics and organisations across England.