African celebrities pledge support for National HIV Testing Week

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Lord Paul Boateng

Premiership footballer Emmanuel Adebayor, Game of Thrones actor Lucian Msamati, Labour peer Lord Boateng, and TV and stage actress Chipo Chung are among the famous Africans in the UK pledging their support for this year’s National HIV Testing Week (22nd – 29th November).

Premiership footballer Emmanuel Adebayor, said: “I’m supporting National HIV Testing Week because it reminds us that if we each pledge to learn about HIV, to talk about it and take a test, we can start to see new infections fall. In most cases HIV is passed on by people who don’t know they have the virus, so getting tested is the best way to protect those you love and the wider community.”

Game of Thrones actor, Lucian Msamati, said: “I remember the ‘AIDS kills’ ads on TV growing up in Zimbabwe. I remember how terrified I was of ‘catching it’. Over the years I have lost three family members and a couple of dear friends to AIDS. Fast forward to 2013, and it seems to me that fear is still the greatest barrier to overcoming HIV even though people can now access lifesaving treatment. Free treatment is accessible to all in the UK meaning that if you get a positive diagnosis you can live a normal lifespan. The first step towards overcoming stigma and fear of HIV is knowledge, so let’s take every opportunity to make sure everyone in our communities knows the benefits of an HIV test. For these reasons and for all those out there afraid of that first step, I support National HIV Testing Week.”

Labour peer, Lord Boateng, said: “National HIV Testing Week is an opportunity to checkout your status. Taking control of your own health by getting tested means staying well by being able to access appropriate health care if you are positive. And, if you are negative, keeping that way by staying safe. Knowing your status is a contribution then not only to your own health but to the wellbeing of the whole community. Let’s make a conscious decision to beat ignorance and the virus and get tested now!”
TV and stage actress, Chipo Chung, said: “It can sometimes seem like HIV is a thing of the past – the terrifying ‘90s. Yet just this year a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with AIDS because they’d had HIV for so long without knowing it. We live in a wonderful age when HIV treatment is free in the UK, which can prevent HIV from damaging the immune system and causing AIDS. National HIV Testing Week is a chance to banish fear and stigma, get tested and, if you’re positive, get the medication you need to stay healthy.”

National HIV Testing Week runs from Friday 22nd – Friday 29th November, and coincides with the first ever European HIV Testing Week. Africans have already been sending their pledges of support for the week to a new section of the It Starts With Me website (www.startswithme.org.uk), coordinated by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins trust.