World Aids Day was founded in 1988 and takes place on 1st December each year. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, and to remember those we have lost.
This year to mark the day, Cumbria Sexual Health services want to highlight the importance of HIV testing and prevention.
Professor Matt Phillips, Consultant - Cumbria Sexual Health Services said:
“Testing and treating is the key to ending HIV transmissions. Effective treatment helps people to live long, healthy lives with HIV and means they can’t pass the virus on.
People can also use Pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) if they are at higher risk of HIV to protect themselves from catching the virus. We are able to offer this in our clinics across Cumbria. Through combined efforts, we are collectively working towards no more HIV infections by 2030.
“It’s really important that we reduce the stigma around HIV and that is one of the reasons that on World Aids day the Trust’s sexual health teams have invited local mayors to attend our sexual health clinics in Carlisle, Workington, Barrow and Kendal for an opportunity to look around the clinics, find out more about we provide and ask any questions.”
If you want to attend a sexual health clinic in Cumbria call the central booking line on 01228 608989 or there is now also a confidential online booking system.
Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV. If you are living with HIV, starting treatment early means you can live a full, healthy and productive life. Free and confidential HIV tests are available from NHS sexual health clinics (also called GUM clinics), charity testing services, many GP surgeries, pharmacies or online for self-testing at home. Free self-sampling HIV test kits are available to people from certain areas in England here.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK over 4,139 people are diagnosed with HIV and people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others. Stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.