World AIDS Day – 1 December
How much do you know about HIV? If you’re having unprotected sex then you may find out more than you want to know.
The fight against HIV and AIDS has come a long way since the first ‘World AIDS Day’ in 1988 thanks to better prevention, treatment and education. However, HIV is increasing in every region in the world, including here in the UK.
There are currently just over 600 people who are known to be living with HIV in Hampshire and it is estimated that up to 30 per cent of all people with HIV do not know that they already have the infection.
HIV can be passed on through:
unprotected sex (sex without a condom); through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid)
- sharing infected needles and works
- from an HIV positive mother to her child during pregnancy, child birth or breastfeeding
Anybody can become infected with HIV however men who have sex with men and people who have sexual partners from sub-Saharan Africa are most at risk and are encouraged to be tested for HIV on a regular basis.
There is no cure for HIV and no vaccine to prevent you from getting it.
Rob Carroll, Health Improvement Manager at NHS Hampshire says if you want to steer clear of HIV then you need to arm yourself with the facts and take simple steps to keep yourself HIV-free; “We would encourage everyone to find out everything they can about HIV as this will help to protect those who have it and their partners, and also encourage respect for those living with HIV. There is still no cure for HIV but you can protect yourself against it by always using a condom and using clean needles to prevent the risk of infection through injecting drug use. Using a condom will also help to protect you against other sexually transmitted Infections (STIs).”
More than a quarter of people with HIV in the UK don’t know they have it and many people diagnosed with this virus will be diagnosed late – AFTER the point at which they should have started treatment.
However, if you have had unprotected sex and are worried about HIV then a quick and simple test can be done at any of Hampshire’s sexual health clinics (GUM) and you can also request a test at your GP surgery.
REMEMBER – the earlier the diagnosis, the greater chance you have of living a longer and healthier life.
The only way to find out if you’ve got HIV is to be tested for it. You can ask your GP for an HIV test or attend a local GUM / sexual health clinic. Use the GET IT ON website to find out more information about sexual health and to find out where your nearest clinic is.
Alternatively, you can either call ‘THT Direct’ on 0845 12 21 200 Monday to Friday 10am – 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm – 6pm or go to their website – www.tht.org.uk for information, support and advice on HIV and sexual health.
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