Flying the flag to mark HIV testing week
Posted on: 30 November 2016
Devon County Council is flying a red ribbon flag tomorrow (Thursday, December 1), to mark World Aids Day and HIV testing week, and show support to tackle the stigma of HIV and AIDS.
As part of a commitment to promote positive sexual health for Devon residents, the Council is hosting an awareness session on HIV testing at its Exeter headquarters in County Hall, to raise awareness among staff and visitors and encourage people to get themselves tested, and spread the word to others.
In 2015 there are over 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV and only 88,769 know they have the condition, which increases the risk of onward transmission greatly. In 2015 over 6,000 were diagnosed with HIV and in the South West 41.1% of those diagnosed were diagnosed late.
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.
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.
This year is the first time the red ribbon flags will be displayed at Council headquarters across the South West, in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton and Gloucester. It follows the example of Gloucestershire County Council, who have for a number of years flown a flag for World AIDS Day on the 1 December,
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I’ll be wearing my red ribbon this year in my pledge to continue to challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV, and I’d encourage others to do the same.
“We need to have more conversations about sexual health and HIV, and to raise awareness of the importance of testing and early detection of this now highly treatable, but still very misunderstood, disease.”
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
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.
Posted in: Health and Wellbeing