Can't pass it on

Can't pass it on
Posted on 24 Aug 2018

New research from a YouGov survey exploring people’s attitudes towards sex, relationships and HIV reveals, according to sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, ‘a shocking level of stigma steeped in a severe lack of understanding of HIV transmission’. It’s something that the charity’s new Can’t Pass It On campaign aims to eradicate...

A recent PARTNER study examined over 58,000 instances of sex between a HIV-positive person on effective treatment and a partner without HIV. There were zero cases of HIV transmission. Sadly, most people are unaware of this, and many still don’t believe it when it’s explained.

Here’s what the YouGov survey found...

On dating someone with HIV
Thirty-five percent of people in the West Midlands would ‘swipe left’ on a dating app for someone living with HIV who’s on effective treatment, while 36% ‘don’t know’ which way they’d swipe and 25% said they ‘wouldn’t’ swipe left.

On kissing someone with HIV
Forty-two percent of people wouldn’t feel comfortable kissing someone living with HIV and on effective treatment, 20% didn’t know’, and 34% agreed that they would.

On having sex with someone HIV+
Just six percent of those asked agreed that they’d be comfortable having unprotected sex with someone living with HIV and on effective treatment, whilst 82% of respondents said that they wouldn’t.

On catching HIV
Fifty-two percent of West Midlands respondents said it was false that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus, with 34% saying they were unsure and 13% believing it was a true statement.

Science has proven that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot pass the virus onto sexual partners, regardless of whether they use a condom or not.

Sadiq, a circus performer from London who’s living with HIV, finds that when he tells people he can’t pass the virus on, the fact is always met with surprise: “Knowing I can’t pass it on opens up a world where I’m okay to be HIV positive and still have relationships, without the virus being a barrier.”

Praising the Can’t Pass It On campaign, Sadiq says it “gives people living with HIV a very easy way to inform and educate, without having to get into specifics”.

Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), thinks it’s very important to get the message out to as many people as possible. ‘Whilst medical progress has been made, the knowledge of HIV hasn’t kept up with that progress. With effective treatment now available, that means HIV shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone doing anything they want to, including having a fulfilling relationship and sex life.
“We all have a role to play in this, and it’s high time everyone stopped doubting the science and accepted the realities of HIV. That’s the best way to tackle the abhorrent stigma which still surrounds the virus.
“It’s truly devastating to hear that so many wouldn’t ‘swipe right for’ or even kiss someone living with HIV who’s on effective treatment. We’ve known for three decades that HIV can’t be passed on through day-to-day contact, and that includes kissing.”

Knowing your status...
According to Terrence Higgins Trust, there are an estimated 10,400 people in the UK who don’t know that they’re living with HIV, which means that they’re not on effective medication, so could unknowingly pass on the virus.
Regular HIV testing enables people who have a reactive (positive) result to access effective treatment earlier. This increases their ability to live a long, healthy life and prevents them from transmitting HIV to current or future sexual partners. That’s why the charity has launched a programme that will enable men who have sex with men (MSM), trans women and black African people to order free HIV self-testing kits.
The new service will provide free HIV self-tests which people can do in the privacy of their own home, receiving results in minutes. People who order one of the kits will also have access to support from THT Direct, the charity’s information and advice line, which is there to provide information and support whatever the result.

However, the programme is currently only running for six months. Terrence Higgins Trust is currently seeking charitable donations from supporters, in the hope of being able to extend the initiative for a longer period of time.
Find out more about HIV transmission at To order your free self-testing kit, visit


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