It's shocking that 1 in 3 people living with HIV in Europe are unaware of their status - meaning 10,000s of people aren't getting the treatment they need.
Many people don't get tested for HIV because they're scared by the stigma associated with HIV. People fear that HIV is a death sentence, they fear they will have to face it alone, and they fear that could be discriminated against.
We must break down this stigma and change misconceptions about HIV.
Thanks to positive developments in HIV treatments many people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. There are a number of groups and organisations providing free help and support to people living with HIV. The last Labour government passed a number of laws to actively protect people with HIV from discrimination.
A few weeks ago I visited the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) office in Brighton to learn more about HIV testing and to get tested myself. The THT team were extremely friendly and talked me through the quick and non-invasive process and I got the results back within just 20 minutes.
THT provides an excellent free testing service. There are also many other places to get tested; you can visit a Sexual Health Clinic, ask your local GP for a test, or test yourself at home with kits available online and in some pharmacies.
Today marks the start of European HIV Testing Week - an important initiative I am proud to support.
European Test Week aims to:
* Encourage people who could be at risk of HIV to get tested
* Encourage healthcare professionals to offer an HIV test as part of routine care in specific settings and conditions in line with present European guidelines
* Support and unite community organisations to scale-up HIV testing and share lessons learned between countries
* Make more policy makers aware of the socioeconomic benefits of HIV testing initiatives and how to evaluate HIV testing practices
Though only in its second year, European HIV Testing Week has managed to engage hundreds of organisations and help thousands of people to become aware of their HIV status and start getting the treatment and support they need.
I encourage everyone to do what they can to help promote this fantastic initiative.