For the first time ever, Plymouth City Council will be flying a flag to mark World Aids Day on Thursday 1 December, along with a number of other councils in the South West.
Working in partnership with the Eddystone Trust, the Council aims to raise awareness of Aids and show solidarity for people living with Aids and HIV, as well as promoting safe sex.
In 2015 there were an estimated 103,700 people living with HIV and an estimated 17% of those undiagnosed and unaware of their condition – therefore not receiving treatment and at risk of onward transmission. In the UK in 2015 there were 6,095 new diagnoses.
The aim of National HIV Testing week 2016 is to further build on the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign, getting individuals to play their part in HIV testing and stand up to say that they are testing.
Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are pleased to be able to support World Aids Day and the Eddystone Trust by flying the World Aids Day flag.
“We are also supporting HIV Testing Week. Everyone needs to look after all aspects of their health, and sexual health is no exception.”
Dr Ruth Harrell, Interim Director of Public Health said: “Nearly a third of new cases of HIV diagnosed in our city are diagnosed at a late stage in the illness. Earlier diagnosis means that a person can get earlier treatment which in turn increases their likelihood of a healthier and longer life.
“Ultimately though prevention is better than cure and I would urge people to always practice safe sex by using a condom correctly.”
Andrew Evans, Director of Operations of The Eddystone Trust, the local HIV and sexual health charity said “We aim to promote and increase HIV testing in all areas, it is better to test sooner as a late diagnosis can damage your body and even shorten your life. We want to expand rapid HIV testing across the South West, working with our partner organisations on testing and HIV, to promote and increase professionals access to training and seminars on the topics of sexual health and HIV.
“For a number of years Gloucestershire County Council have flown a flag for World AIDS Day on the 1st December, this year for the 1st time we will have these flags displayed across the South West, in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton and Gloucester. All these County Councils have agreed to fly the flags in support of a bid to make stigma history for HIV.
“We also want you join us in pledging to wear a red ribbon, to continue to challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. The website www.redribbonpledge.co.uk gives people the opportunity to record their pledge to wear a ribbon and on twitter people can share their reasons using #YourRibbonReasons
Anyone can register their pledge to wear a red ribbon and make a donation to support World AIDS Day and HIV Testing Week
More information on the Eddystone Trust website
Facts about HIV:
- 88,769 HIV+ people in the UK are engaged with healthcare in 2015
- 41.1% of those diagnosed in 2015 in the South West were diagnosed late
- 1 in 6 of those diagnosed are aged over 55
- 1/3rd of those people living with HIV in the UK have experienced discrimination
- A late diagnosis creates a 10fold increased risk of death with the 1st year of diagnosis
- A late diagnosis is those with a CD4 count of less than 350. A CD4 count is a lab test that measures the number of CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) in a sample of your blood. In people with HIV, it is the most important laboratory indicator of how well your immune system is working and the strongest predictor of HIV progression.
Notes to editors
World AIDS Day – World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988. http://www.worldaidsday.org/
It Starts With Me– HIV Prevention England runs the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign which promotes safe sex and HIV testing to all, but also with materials targeted to specific audiences such as gay men and African men. For more information go to https://www.startswithme.org.uk/
More information about Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trusts’ HIV services is available at http://www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/ourservices/clinicaldepartments/GUM/Pages/HIVTesting.aspx
Further details about home HIV testing are available here: https://www.yourship.uk/
For more information on HIV services across the city, visit web.plymouth.gov.uk/hiv