A new service, just launched by GMFA, the gay men’s health charity, will send men annual email reminders to go get an HIV test. Users of the service fill in a simple form at www.gmfa.org.uk/reminder and will then be sent a reminder to test on the month of their choosing. No information on testing results is kept and users can unsubscribe at any time.
Although the number of gay men getting tested for HIV has quadrupled over the last decade it is estimated that less than one in four gay men follow the advice for an annual check-up. As a result there are about 10,000 gay men living with HIV have not been diagnosed and so cannot benefit from treatment. Men who have HIV without knowing about it cannot get the care and treatment that can prevent serious HIV-related illness. Reports indicate that 70% of people who die with HIV in the UK were diagnosed late.
Matthew Hodson of GMFA said, “The idea of sending out annual reminders came from gay men who completed surveys that we conducted on attitudes to testing. Early diagnosis means a much better chance of a healthy life, if you have HIV. And men who have tested and are on treatment are much less likely to pass on HIV to their sexual partners. Regular testing will help men with HIV to live longer and will reduce the number of gay men who become infected so we are particularly keen that gay men test more often.”
You can also use the system to get reminded to have a general STI check-up.