The fight against HIV is being won but the fight against ignorance is being lost - which is why today (December 1) people are being encouraged to #rocktheribbon to show their support on World Aids Day.
Diagnoses of HIV are falling in the UK, which means the spread of the virus is slowing. However, there is no room for complacency and we need to build on progress to-date to end new transmissions for good.
Dr Stephen Baird, GP and Chair, Lincolnshire East CCG, said: “Several thousand people are still diagnosed with HIV across the UK every year. It is important to understand that HIV is treatable with drugs, and the sooner it is diagnosed the better.”
The only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test, which, as well as helping to protect sexual partners from infection, can also significantly improve the effectiveness of treatments available, especially if diagnosed earlier.
In addition, an early diagnosis greatly improves the chances of managing the infection and of living a healthy life with a normal life expectancy.
Dr Baird continued: “Whilst the epidemic is slowing in the UK, nearly half of people who test positive find out very late that they have HIV, meaning the virus may have damaged their health permanently, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
“We have made huge strides in our understanding of HIV and how to treat it, but we can do more to help encourage early diagnosis and combat stigma and discrimination.”
The fight against HIV is not just about the virus, it is also trying to stop the ignorance and discrimination that people living with HIV can face, which can limit their opportunities and prevent them from living full and happy lives.
World Aids Day is an opportunity to show solidarity with the millions of people who live with HIV globally, and most people do this by wearing an HIV awareness red ribbon on the day – these can be ordered online or you can pick one up in a MAC cosmetics shop and from selected branches of Morrisons.