The Council is joining people across the globe today (1st December) to raise awareness, debunk social stigmas and challenge misconceptions about HIV & AIDS as part of World AIDS Day. People at risk are also encouraged to get tested.
Earlier this year, a paper to the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board reported that the prevalence for HIV in Derby had risen to 2.1 per 1,000 adults – so, for every 1,000 people in Derby there will be around two people living with HIV.
Councillor Martin Repton, who is Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care, said: “Following the report, the Council has set up a working group with partner agencies to develop actions to raise awareness, educate clinicians and seek more accessible ways of testing.”
Partner organisations include: Public Health, the voluntary sector, local community groups, Derbyshire Community Health services, and Royal Derby Hospital.
“Even with our advances in medical technology, people still have fears, prejudices and negative attitudes – which can lead to discrimination.
Since 2005 it has become illegal in the UK to discriminate against people with HIV in areas such as healthcare, employment and in general.
In many parts of the world, people living with HIV/AIDS continue to be shunned and prohibited from using public facilities, getting jobs or medical treatment.
Councillor Repton added: “This campaign is also an opportunity to educate the wider community and make people realise that HIV no longer carries a death sentence.”
Dr Robyn Dewis, Derby City Council Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said:
“World AIDS Day is an opportunity for all of us to take a global stand and challenge the HIV stigma using every communication tool we have.
“Living with HIV today is a very different experience from what it was in the 1980s and 1990s because there are very good treatments available.”
“HIV is now a very treatable condition and people can live a very long time with it.
“The earlier we can get people tested and treated, the greater the opportunities for a longer and healthier life.
“However, only half of people diagnosed are at an early stage of infection. I would encourage people who think they may be at risk to get tested. There are various ways you can do this including your local Sexual Health Service.”
What is HIV?
HIV attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight infection. It is spread through direct contact with infected body fluids, including through unprotected sex.
HIV becomes AIDS (acquired, immune deficiency syndrome) in its final stages – when the body can no longer fight life-threatening infections.
Progression of the disease can be delayed significantly by modern drug treatments.
What is World Aids Day?
World Aids Day is held on 1st December each year. It was launched in 1988 to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, to encourage people to support those living with the condition and to remember those who died.
It is run by the National AIDS Trust (NAT) and is an opportunity for people across the globe to:
- unite in the fight against HIV
- show their supporting for people living with HIV
- commemorate the people who have died.