I WAS pleased to read the article “HIV testing delays boost death risk” (Daily Echo, Feb 12) and would like to add my voice to those of the Terrence Higgins Trust and Public Health England underlining the importance of being regularly tested for HIV and, if positive, starting treatment early.

I was diagnosed HIV+ in 1987 at the age of 47, while living in California – at a time when there were no effective treatments for the condition.

In the first two years following the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in 1981, 37 of my friends had died within months of contracting the virus including 13 of the 19 people with whom I worked.

However, careful monitoring at designated HIV clinics, ensured that as soon as treatments against the virus were developed,

I was able to take advantage of them and, 35 years after being diagnosed, the virus has now been undetectable in my blood for several years and my immune system is functioning well.

In fact, I have never, in all that time, suffered from any AIDS-related condition and being HIV+ does not impact negatively on my life.

I strongly urge everyone to have the test – a positive result is no longer a ‘death sentence’, as long as it is diagnosed and treated early.

Just as with breast, bowel and other cancers – the earlier it is treated the better one’s chance of survival.

I can do no better than borrow from President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural address to the American people in 1933, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself”!

Don’t let fear of a positive result stop you from taking a simple step that could save your life.