Episode 18: HIV Can Affect Anyone


Sex Talk- Episode 18- HIV can affect anyone

Voice Over: You're listening to Sex Talk, a podcast all about sex. In this podcast expect to hear some colourful language and conversations of a sexual nature. You may want to pop on a pair of headphones for some privacy during this podcast.

Sex talk. Real stories, real issues.

Lizzie: I'm Lizzie and I became a mum in 2005. I became a widow in 2006 and then six months later I was diagnosed with HIV. I identify as a heterosexual woman so I enjoy sex with men, and I didn't think I was ever at risk of HIV, it wasn't something on my radar.

Voice Over: Sex talk. With your hosts Adele and Hilary.

Adele : Welcome to Sex Talk. So today we're focusing on something we have talked about a lot on this podcast, the fact that HIV can affect anyone. Now if you're new to the podcast first of all welcome, thank you for being here and you cango back and listen to the previous episodes by subscribing to the podcast in your favourite podcast app.

Hilary : Follow us on Twitter @SexTalkRadioUK and visit our website sextalk.radio As many guests have mentioned on Sex Talk, HIV can affect anyone, regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity. As we've mentioned throughout the series, there are more 'at risk groups' for example, men who have sex with men, and black African people are disproportionately affected by HIV, however, this doesn't mean people outside of these groups don't and can't contract the virus.

Adele : Around 48% of people living with HIV in the UK were exposed to the virus through sex between a man and a woman. Today we will be speaking to two people living with HIV, who didn't think they'd ever be at risk of contracting the virus. Lizzie, who you heard at the start of the episode, and Raj. We'll also be chatting to Yasmin Dunkley, testing and prevention team leader for HIV charity, Positive East.

Voice Over: Sex Talk. Coming up on this episode of sex talk:

Lizzie: Life got tragically turned upside down literally. My partner died very suddenly, which we then found out was AIDs related, so all of a sudden I was sent off for a test and was diagnosed so it was a very steep learning curve from my ignorant little bubble in rural Lincolnshire.

Raj: When I was diagnosed the first thing people would ask me is have you been with a man? And I know for a lot of straight men thinking is someone going to question my sexuality, that is a big deal.

Voice Over: Sex talk.

Adele: We're now joined in the studio by the woman who opened this episode of Sex Talk, Lizzie Jordan. Lizzie is one of over 30 thousand women living with HIV in the UK. Welcome to Sex Talk Lizzie!

Lizzie : Thank you for having me.

Adele : I like your T-shirt. Lizzie's T-shirt has got Be Kind on it. I think that's something that will be the theme of this episode, people to be mindful.

Hilary: Lizzie, had HIV had ever crossed your mind before you were diagnosed in 2006? Can you tell us about your life leading up to this point?

Lizzie : Sure, so I was I'm going to say it, ignorant. It wasn't something on my radar, it wasn't something I ever considered. It wasn't something I knew about apart from the 80's stuff, and the fear driven stuff, and East Enders and the one character in there. That was pretty much all I knew, and then life tragically got turned upside down, literally. My partner died very suddenly which we then found out was AIDs related, so all of a sudden I was sent off for a test and was diagnosed so it was a very steep learning curve from my ignorant little bubble in rural Lincolnshire where I didn't really know anything and had to very quickly learn as much as I could about how I could live well and what does this actually mean?

Adele: Three massive things happened to you in the space of 18 months. In your TED talk you were like I found out I was pregnant, so you found out you were going to be a mother for the first time which is an amazing beautiful thing. Then you lose your partner which is the total opposite of that wonderful beautiful thing. And also he is part of this beautiful baby. And then you find out you have HIV. In 18 months, your whole life turned right around.

Lizzie : It was a rollercoaster. Literally the highest highs and the lowest lows, but my son is a complete blessing and if he wasn't here and that hadn't have happened, and the series of events that happened, I wouldn't be here because when you have a little baby you have to get up and you have to get on with your day so everything I do is powered on by the fact that he is here.

Hilary : Amazing. You're an angel. How did you feel once you got the diagnosis? What did you do from there?

Lizzie : My son was about 18 months old when I was diagnosed so I was still breast feeding at the time, so that was when I was first given the news it was like oh my god, it was nothing about me it was we need to get him tested and what about my son, and he's negative, so whoever was looking down on us, he's negative, he's fit and well and he's amazing so then it was like, okay now I need to think about me and what does that mean.

Hilary : Did you have the test offered to you when you were pregnant?

Lizzie : We lived in London at the time, most of my maternity care happened in London and then we moved up to Lincolnshire for delivery and for the year the plan was to be up there for a year and we don't quite know what happened but notes didn't get transferred, we don't know whether the test that was done during my antenatal care what the result was. It's gone missing.

Adele : So you had the test you just didn't have the result?

Lizzie : Yeah, so we don't know and at the time I could've gone after that but it would not have made any difference, and I was like do I waste my energy trying to find out because actually what's happened has happened and I'm quite pragmatic in that way, is this going to serve me, is this going to help? Probably not. Let's move on, shit's happened, let's move on and get on with it so that's how I was, like this is the hand we've got and let's run with it. So we've gone a long, long way, so testing now and treatment is great. So mum's that are considering pregnancy or are pregnant who are diagnosed there's nothing to be scared of. Yes there's amazing groups and charities out there, the medical staff is all there so when you are diagnosed it's not the end of the world. We are so lucky in this country that everything is there to help you. Just reach out and ask for help.

Adele: You're a remarkable woman, I loved your TED talk and I love the fact that that's visible for people, so if people are going through something similar to you they know they're not alone, that they're not going to be judged, that there's people that are going to understand them. What else do you do to help spread the message around HIV and also I guess educate people? I was going to say reeducate but it's not even that, it's just getting the message out that there's a lot that can be done nowadays.

Lizzie : Exactly. I'll hold my hands up and say I became infected because I was ignorant, because I was scared of having conversations, because I wasn't equipped to negotiate the kind of sex that I wanted or I wasn't equipped to have the conversations. sitting with someone talking about intimate things, I didn't have that in my repertoire of stuff and actually that underpins all HIV prevention stuff because you need to be able to have a conversation with someone as simple as that sounds and that's what I talk about in my TED Talk, actually there's lots of medical things that can help people live well with HIV or prevent them getting HIV but most of that starts with having a conversation and either reaching out for help from a medic or being with someone you're going to be intimate with and having a conversation as simple as that sounds. A lot of what I do is trying to either, depending on what generation people are, is unpeeling what they've learned from the 80s or the early 90s, let's park that because we've moved on a long way, but society maybe hasn't and actually getting up to speed on this is where we're at, this is what it looks like but the other part of that is this is what it looks like and actually you can't tell and that's what the most powerful bit is. I do a lot of going into schools and talking to young people and trying to get them to think about that sexual health doesn't look like a person. We all have sexual health, we all have dental health. We go to the dentist and that's okay, you've eaten sweets you know you need to go to the dentist. Actually if you're going to be intimate with people, you need to look after that too, you need to go to the sexual health clinic. You shouldn't be ashamed of doing that, that's empowering, that's a good thing. So when I sit with young people and we have this conversation and I do all the stuff I have to do it's like, okay why is this so important to me? And then it's like, well this is why it's so important to me… and their faces go huh! What? You could be my mum, you could be my sister, you could be my aunt, and you can see it reframed. Okay yeah I do need to listen because this could be anybody that I know. And the most interesting bit is when the teachers at the back suddenly go 'I'm listening now'.

Hilary : It's not just for the children.

Lizzie : Exactly and I love that bit in the awful way of you're learning too, thank you for putting down your marking that you were doing at the back and now I've got your attention too, so we've all got stuff to learn. The day that we say we're not learning our time is done.

Voice Over: Sex talk. -

Hilary : Lizzie, rates of late HIV diagnosis are highest in heterosexual men and women than other groups, why do you think this is?

Lizzie : There are so many different levels to why that is. There are some amazing support groups out there and a lot of people connect with people they can see themselves in, and often the people that are visible more people connect with those people so we need to get more people who are visible who are heterosexual and actually there are not many of us, heterosexual men particularly that are willing to be visible, and so it perpetuates the myth and stigma that they don't exist and it doesn't affect that population, which we know is not correct. So there's one thing about the visibility of advocates and activists and empowering patients to stand up and represent their community, but that isn't for everybody and that is not the solution. A lot of education, a lot of resources, and a lot of the effort and energy and money gets pumped into where the big numbers are, and in some ways rightly so, but for me a person is a person, and that is a problem when we have money being spent on very specific communities, which is right and I would never stop that, but we do need to put money behind communities that we know at the moment are not hearing the message, so that's why it's so important if we've got people that can speak out and talk about this, then let's use them and let's make the most of that to make the noise. And so much of that is that person looks like me, I'm hearing that. As awful as that is, it does work it does encourage that, we know that. So making more of that happen would be top of my list.

Hilary : Now Lizzie, I'm very mindful because I know your son's in the other room.

Lizzie : There's nothing he hasn't heard me talk about.

Hilary : This is not a bad question, just in case he's listening, but what's it like to date people?

Lizzie : So dating's been really interesting. For quite a long time when I was diagnosed to start with I was like I haven't got time, I cannot get my head around this, and then I was like actually I will only date other people who are living with HIV so for quite a few years, there's quite a few websites and you meet other people living with the virus and that was great because actually I met some really good friends and met people much more than friends and met some amazing people. And then I started treatment and that was going really well and I suddenly realized actually I'm not infectious, I'm not a risk, I don't have to narrow down the pool of people that I choose to date based on their HIV status, so I didn't consciously think now I'm on the market, life isn't like that for me, but it revolved around one of my other friends who's living with HIV, another activist, was winding me up saying about going on Tinder and I was like, you know, I'm quite curious to see because in the gay community on apps, they're quite open about their HIV status. On heterosexual apps it just isn't, that conversation doesn't happen. And I was like it would be really interesting to do a kind of with my HIV status and without my HIV status and see what happens.

Adele : So like two profiles?

Lizzie : Yeah, anyway this person jumped on going 'you don't want to do that you really don't want to do that'. And I was like 'who are you to tell me what I can and can't do'. And anybody who tells me not to do something I surefire will bring it on.

Hilary : I've been with you for like 10 minutes now and I already know that!

Lizzie: So earlier this year I was doing – each year I go to a particular university and do some sessions with students and every year I get asked are you dating? Are you single? What are you doing? So knowing this was going to happen I was like you know what I'm going to do it, I'm going to make the profiles. So I set up a profile, I live in rural Lincolnshire and there aren't that many people, and first I was thinking are there going to be a load of people that know you from the playground, I don't know what to expect. So I did it and for 24 hours I set the profile up and didn't mention HIV. I talked about my work and different things and didn't mention HIV and it was like nuts, kind of flattering but also, ew. This is so not me and I felt so old.

Hilary : Did you use your real name?

Lizzie : Yeah because it has to connect to Facebook.

Adele : It should be like that so you have to be really you.

Lizzie : So it was definitely me and if you Googled you'd find a lot of stuff, so it wouldn't have taken a genius to work it out, but it's the face value there was no mention of HIV and it was ridiculous and the messages and stuff which was very flattering but ew. So I did that for 24 hours and I've got a spreadsheet thing but I wanted… So there was this different ways of doing things and these messages and then for 24 hours I changed it to make it very clear that I was living with HIV, that I was undetectable so the medication's working well, therefore I'm not infectious, my viral load is undetectable. And not radio silence, but obviously people who weren't reading everything, and the messages stopped and this one guy messaged saying 'you're really brave' and before I'd even read it I couldn't reply because he'd blocked me, and it was like this is really interesting. There was a study recently that the Terrance Higgins trust did and they did a YouGov type poll to find out people's responses to the U = U so undetectable equals untransmittable, and that science based thing that proves that people on medication are not infections and I think 30% of the respondents said they didn't trust the science and they wouldn't match with somebody who was living with HIV and it really underestimates when people are faced with that scenario how they respond to it. I think from my very non-scientific poll people were just, no I'm going to walk away.

Adele : How do you deal with that emotionally?

Lizzie : Because I wasn't looking for someone, I wasn't doing it for anything more than being curious, I found it quite funny but also frighteningly sad that actually for someone – I've been diagnosed now 12 years, I accept that some people are still where I was 12 years ago and that's okay and I don't have to make everybody get to where I am. I can accept there's a lot of education to be done.

Adele : If people are listening right now and maybe they're where you were in their journey of diagnosis 12, 13 years ago, so say you could take yourself back, what advice would you give yourself.

Lizzie : The main thing for me is actually educate yourself and that's at different levels so actually some people don't want to know all the treatment options, they don't want to know the science, they don't want to know everything, they just want to know what they need to know to get through the day, the week, the year. And so what do you need to know right now and who do you need alongside you to support you, so who can you reach out to that can help you with the questions or the things that you're not quite sure about and then knowing where to turn to for those things and who is that right person? So it might be a charity, it might be a support group, it might be a friend, it might be a family member, but you don't have to tell everybody. There's not checklist of you need to do X Y and Z by then then and then, it's what information do you need to live well, or as well as you can right now and what's going to help you, so asking for help is the biggest thing and we're not always brilliant at that.

Adele : Congratulations on everything that you're doing. I love that every time I've encountered you, your son's with you, so that's great. But also I mean you've had to be strong for yourself and strong for your son after sadly losing your partner, so what would you say to anyone – we know the treatment's getting a lot better and hopefully less and less people are losing their life from HIV and AIDs, but what would you say to anyone who's maybe going through a tough time thinking about the prospect of losing someone really close to them?

Lizzie : It's that you're going to be okay. We are so lucky in the UK to have the access to the medics that we have, to have the treatment that we have and actually, when diagnosed early enough and treated well you're going to be fine, and anybody that you know, if somebody's been diagnosed and they've shared that with you that's a huge thing for that person to have shared with you, so feel really lucky that they've opened up to you and trusted and respected you enough to share that with you and just be there for them. Just be kind to them, just be nice to them, check in with them and that's not a patronising smotheringness, it's just are you okay? Do you want to go for a brew? Do you want a pint? It's that simple thing of checking in with people and those simple gestures really can mean the world because actually, access to care and access to all the science stuff is here, you're going to be fine. You just need to tap into what's available and make the most of it.

Hilary : It's been a pleasure talking to you Lizzie, you're an asset to the movement.

Voice Over: Sex talk. Real stories, real issues.

Hilary :It's estimated thatthere are around 10,400 people living with HIV in the UK who donotknow they have the virus. People not knowing their status is what is spreading HIV. If you don't know you're living with HIV, you're not going to be on treatment which prevents you from passing the virus on. 96% of those whoarediagnosed are on treatment, and 97% are undetectable, which means they cannot pass HIV on.

Adele: Joining us on the line is Yasmin Dunkley, who's extremely passionate about HIV prevention and testing, and works for HIV Charity Positive East, welcome to Sex Talk Yasmin!

Yasmin :Hey guys, thank you great to be here.

Adele: Where are you right now?

Yasmin :I am under a tree in North Wales in the rain.

Hilary : Lucky you.

Adele : You're joking, it's raining in Wales, can't believe it. Wales is wet? So you're about to do a hike up Mount Snowden?

Yasmin : No that was postponed because of the weather but we've had a beautiful time hiking around here.

Hilary : Yasmin, can you tell us a little bit about the work you do with Positive East?

Yasmin : Yeah so I work for Positive East which is an east London based HIV charity and we provide HIV support and prevention services. So my role is I manage the HIV prevention service for Positive East and that involves loads of different activities so we're a community based organisation so we take HIV testing, education, sexual health screenings into the community so that means we'll be in libraries, schools, anywhere where there's people we'll be talking about HIV and sexual health.

Adele : That's great to hear, so far on Sex Talk we've spoken a lot about HIV and 'at risk groups', such as men who have sex with men. Today we've got two guests on the programme who are not in those groups considered at risk, and had not really paid much attention to HIV before they were diagnosed. You're running a campaign to target women and HIV – what are you doing?

Yasmin : Yeah so we run lots of different activities so some of the work that we're doing is around PrEP for women so I think you guys have spoken quite a lot about PrEP on sex talk.

Hilary : It's always useful to hear more.

Yasmin : So PrEP is an amazing HIV prevention reality, it's a pill you can take before you come into contact with HIV that stops you getting HIV. Almost 100% effective and at the moment the NHS is providing it on trial but there are still a lot of groups who may benefit from this prevention reality who aren't able to access it, and that's mainly due to a complete lack of awareness around PrEP, but also HIV more generally so a lot of the work we're doing is around PrEP, raising awareness but also more generally trying to normalise HIV, because if you don't see yourself at risk of HIV then why would you even think about engaging with HIV prevention or taking a drug to prevent HIV? So there's still a lot of work that needs to be done, that community mobilisation before people can even start thinking about taking PrEP.

Hilary : Yasmin, what can people listening do to protect themselves against HIV?

Yasmin : I mean know your status is the most important thing. As you guys said in your intro, if you know your status and you're positive you can take medication and become undetectable, not pass on the virus. Test once a year. It's interesting as well, one of the examples that we have when we do outreach, the general public will say 'this doesn't affect me, this isn't related to me' one of the things I always find amusing is 'oh no I'm married so HIV can't affect me'. I'm recently married so I still know that HIV can affect people who are married but it's that mentality of I don't need to engage around this issue because it's only for people who are having lots of sex or at risk groups, and I think actually HIV affects everyone and we need to think about that especially if we want to normalise and fight against the stigma of HIV, because if we can't talk about it then we won't test and sadly people still die from AIDs related illnesses in this country, which is a travesty.

Adele : I love how you said know your status I think it's really healthy to get regular testing and you just saying about people being in long term relationships, I've been with my partner for 14 years, we're both female and I know I should get tested, you never know. I should know my status. If anyone's listening right now who wants to find out their status what do they need to do?

Yasmin : So there's so many ways to test. I think it has never been easier to know your status so you have organisations like ourselves, like Positive East, that take testing to the community. Dr Google is your friend, you can go online. In London there's the online screening service as well so you can order a kit to your house, test then and there, send it off and you'll get the results over the phone so you don't even need to leave your house to know your status.

Hilary : Absolutely and for those listening as well if you go back to episode one of sex talk I actually did a live HIV test and it was so simple as Yasmin has just explained. Yasmin for you, you said you're just recently married, congratulations. But why is there a misconception that married couples can't contract HIV or aren't affected by HIV?

Yasmin : I think it's fair in any long term relationship you don't want to think about your risk of HIV or contracting any type of sexually transmitted infection because relationships are built on trust and dialogue and that's not something we necessarily want to think about, that's not a narrative that we feel comfortable with, but in my mind it's a positive thing, a step you're taking for your sexual health, so it's not implying any kind of mistrust or doubt that it's basically I'm looking after myself, I'm going to get checked regularly. We had a man recently who we spoke to when we were doing outreach and we said 'do you want to come and do a sexual health screening?' and he said I don't need to do that, my wife takes care of all that. Which at least I suppose they were having the conversation around screening and there was a dialogue, but no one else can know your status, only you can know your status.

Adele : Women are amazing, but there's only so much we can do.

Hilary : Well done on all the work that you guys are doing in Positive East. Thank you so much for joining us today on sex talk.

Yasmin : It's been a pleasure, keep up the good work guys.

Voice Over: Sex talk. Starting a conversation about sex.

Hilary : We mentioned earlier that heterosexual men and women were more likely to be diagnosed late than other groups.

Adele : 60% of heterosexual men living with HIV are diagnosed late, compared to gay and bisexual men, where only 32% are diagnosed late. Joining us on Sex Talk now is Raj, who is looking to shed some light into why this might be and what can be done about it. Welcome to Sex Talk Raj.

Hilary: Raj, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life before you were diagnosed with HIV? Was HIV something you ever thought about?

Raj : Well no I mean I had a decent job, I had good friends, I was dating, I had a pretty hectic lifestyle, but HIV was never on my radar. I think as a straight male you're not exposed to it in the same way maybe some people are, you don't see advertising in magazines, nightclubs, it's one of those things you remember from the 80s.

Adele : So you mentioned there you had a good job, you had lots of friends, you were dating. Has that changed for you now?

Raj : No.

Adele : Was it more around the time of your diagnosis, was it like a total shift in your life?

Raj : I wasn't expecting it. I used to give blood every few months, so did my normal go give my blood, had a letter come through a couple of weeks later from blood donor centre saying there was a problem can you come in. I spent a very sleepless night wondering what was wrong, what had happened, Googling, it sounds stupid now, but looking at all the things they could call you back for. I spent the night praying I had syphilis because at least that was treatable, so when I got the news there was just shock because I felt my whole world just falling down around me and all I could think of was these 80s images from the adverts of these tombstones and thinking am I going to die?

Adele : That is a lot to deal with.

Raj : Luckily the doctor assured me that it's treatable it's manageable but at the time a lot of what she said passed over me. The doctor was really helpful and then she referred me to obviously the HIV clinic which I wasn't ready to do. I actually cancelled twice and rescheduled it twice, and the day I actually went what should have a been a five minute walk took me nearly 40 minutes because I kept stopping, thinking about turning around and going home.

Adele : Well, well done for having the strength.

Raj : I went and did a test and then spent two weeks in denial saying this is going to be fine, they've made a mistake, my blood's been mixed up with someone else's and even before I'd been to the clinic I'd done all kinds of stupid stuff. I'd looked on the internet and seen all these fake stories about how to cure HIV and I drank the most awful things which I regret now, but at the time I was so focused I'd try anything.

Adele : So looking back would you say to somebody else who recently has had a similar diagnosis, would you say talk to a professional rather than Google, is Google maybe not the best place to go?

Raj : Avoid Google. What I've found is – and I now volunteer in HIV – and what I tell everyone is Google has a lot of information that is now outdated and it doesn't apply because of the advancements made in science and there is a lot of fake stories about HIV, so either speak to a reputable site so ask your doctor which sites should I be looking at. I recommend three or four reputable sites like Terrance Higgins, AIDS Map who are known internationally for having correct information. They update regularly.

Adele : So we've just heard how tough it was for you to deal with. What about then having to talk about it with your friends and family?

Raj : For a long time I didn't want to. I was dating at the time. I just broke it off. I wasn't ready to have that chat. I kept it from my family. I just needed some time in my own head. I told one friend and unfortunately that didn't go as planned and we're not friends anymore. That put me off telling anyone for a long time because this was a friend that I'd helped out in a lot of difficult times he had, and when I went to him, for him to just say 'yeah get out of my house', that put me off telling anyone for a long, long time.

Hilary : They weren't truly a friend then were they? What kind of support was available to you when you were diagnosed? What has helped you?

Raj : The clinic had volunteers so when I spoke to the clinic I said I had no one to talk to, I don't know what to do, they referred me to one of their volunteers and he referred me to an online forum run by Terrance Higgins Trust which it was exactly what I needed. You can go and be as anonymous as you like, you can share your story, no one judges you. There are people that were able to say I've been through something similar, how I coped with it, and that forum helped me so much I actually volunteer on there now so I can help others the same way people helped me.

Adele : That's great to hear, and it's great to hear the positivity now in your life. You were mentioning before about your job and dating and I was like has it completely changed all that for you and you were like no, so how has dating been for you since your diagnosis? We heard about the tough times but what about when it gets better?

Raj : I've actually been in a relationship for the last 18 months now. My partner is negative and it's going really well and we're really happy.

Adele : So this has led you to the right person, someone who's really good in your life?

Raj : I was nervous telling her at first thinking how is this going to go but when I told her and explained what it means she said it doesn't bother me and I want to be with you. She had questions and I was honest with anything she asked, we had an honest chat.

Hilary : We mentioned just before we started talking to you that the late diagnosis rate amongst heterosexual men living with HIV is 60%, why do you think it is so high?

Raj : I think there isn't an awareness of HIV. Men are less likely to go and get tested for HIV. A lot of straight men I speak to, and I was probably the same I thought someone might see me, they might assume things about me, which is why you get a lot of home tests which hopefully will help that and help men take the test. But the other thing is the stigma. When I was diagnosed the first thing people would ask me was have you been with a man? And I know for a lot of straight men thinking is someone going to question my sexuality, that is a big deal.

Adele : We spoke to Lizzie earlier on in this episode and she's a heterosexual female and she was saying it's very hard to have visible people talk honestly and openly which is adding to this stigma, so thank you to you, thank you to Lizzie, thank you to everyone that's spoken to us on sex talk for being honest and open because I think it's going to help change things, but why do you think there is a problem with finding heterosexual men willing to talk about living with HIV?

Raj : I think stigma but also self-awareness, like what are people going to think of me? It's not as widely accepted in the straight community. There's also a fear as a straight man I did not know what everything meant at the beginning. There is also an awareness that if I don't know, my friends don't know and they're going to think all the things that I was thinking when I found out. Are you going to die, have you been with a man, have you been on drugs, when quite frankly I was with someone who wasn't aware of her status and here we are. And I haven't done anything that my friends haven't done.

Hilary : You're doing amazing work on a bigger scale to test for HIV, can you tell us about this work?

Raj : Yeah I volunteer with a charity called Saving Lives in Birmingham. It's called take a test UK. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter and they promote home testing of HIV which is a blot test. We do various events throughout the year so pride, there's a Caribbean festival in Birmingham, we'll go do that, we'll do Fresher's week and then we do a big event around testing week which is the last week of November where we'll have a big red bus and go around various universities, various shopping centres, just be out there promoting the home test, raising awareness of HIV, and again we do more on world AIDs day and we go around doing the same. What I will say for any men who say it could never happen to me, it can and it's better to get yourself tested and treated if you need to. I don't put any blame. I was just as responsible for having sex with the person I had sex with but if she had known and she had been on treatment, she wouldn't have been able to pass the virus onto me which now I know and now I'm on my medication, science has proved that once you're undetectable you cannot transmit, so it's important to get yourself tested. Now I have a brilliant job, I have friends that know, it never comes up anymore. I do crazy stuff like go and climb rocks and I go abseiling and it doesn't stop me doing anything. I do anything I want.

Adele : He needs to hook up with Yasmin and get up Snowden. We're going to say this one more time for the people at the back, it can happen to anyone just get yourself tested. Thanks Raj.

Raj : Thanks.

Voice Over: Sex talk, real stories, real issues. -

Adele : Unfortunately that's all we've got time for on this edition of Sex Talk. If you need further advice or support on any of the issues raised in this episode of Sex Talk contact your GP. They should provide out of hours contact details for emergency calls.

Hilary : Alternatively you can go online - www.nhs.co.uk - to find your nearest STI testing and treatment service.

Adele : Taking a HIV test has never been easier, you can go to your nearest STI testing and treatment service, or you can do a test at home by ordering a test from hivselftest.co.uk . You can also now walk into one of 200 Superdrug stores around the UK and buy a test over the counter. These home testing kits are easy to do and will give you a result in 15 minutes. If you want to find out more, listen to first ever episode of Sex Talk where Hilary took a test in the studio.If you're concerned about HIV - Positively UK - can offer advice. Their national helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm on 020 7713 0444 and you can visit their website positivelyuk.org

Hilary : Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast to keep up to date with the latest episodes, and to follow us on Twitter, we're @sextalkradiouk. Remember undetectable equals untransmitable. Until next time stay safe.

Adele: And keep talking.

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