Globally, 37 million people are living with HIV and this figure rose by 1.8 million people last year. In the UK 15 people are infected every day. Although HIV medical care is now excellent and affordable, more than 1 in 10 people living with HIV don’t know their status because they haven’t been tested, especially those at most risk. Moreover treatment can be beyond the reach of many who then urgently need it – young women, the homeless, migrants and the LGBT community – due to social exclusion and shame. These groups need support if AIDS is to be stopped.
That is why The Independent and Evening Standard are working with the Elton John AIDS Foundation this Christmas to raise awareness and fund access to HIV testing and treatment for those who need it, both in the UK and abroad. HIV testing is reliable, cheap and easy to use, even for at-risk groups and HIV is not a death sentence. The right treatment suppresses HIV in the bloodstream. Patients don’t get sick and don’t infect others. This is how your donation will help the Elton John AIDS Foundation stop this epidemic.
Money raised from public donations through the AIDSfree appeal will be used to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation projects in six key cities around the world (London, Nairobi, Atlanta, Kiev, Delhi and Maputo). Through UK Aid Match, the UK government will double public donations up to £2 million to be spent across projects in Maputo and Nairobi.
HIV testing and treatment is free and available to all in the UK. A simple finger prick test can be taken in the privacy of your own home, which you can send to a lab and then receive test results in a format that best suits your lifestyle. Tests are also available at sexual health services, GPs, healthcare and community settings nationwide. In many cases the test involves a finger prick and results are ready within minutes. You can order a free HIV postal test at www.freetesting.hiv or find out where to test locally via startswithme.org.uk.