In an effort to unite against the worldwide spread of HIV/AIDS and to show solidarity with those living with HIV, NHS Mid Essex CCG is teaming up with the Essex Sexual Health Service in supporting World AIDS Day on Thursday 1st December.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate people who have died.
While scientific and social advances have seen a massive improvement in HIV treatment and awareness of the disease, the reality of social stigma for the 6,000 people diagnosed with HIV per year in the UK demonstrates that the battle is far from over.
HIV attacks the body's immune system and is contracted through infected bodily fluids, most commonly through sex without a condom or by sharing infected needles or syringes.
Dr Caroline Dollery, Chair of Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP said: "It is really important to be in control of your sexual health and know how to protect yourself and others from HIV. If you think you may be at risk, I'd encourage you to get tested. The test is a simple blood test and results and advice are confidential.
"We know there have been many advances made in HIV treatment and getting tested early will provide more effective treatment against the virus. This will improve people's chances of a healthier and longer life and reduce their risk of infecting others."
Kez Spelman, Clinical Contracts Manager for the Essex Sexual Health Service and a Sexual Health Nurse Consultant said: "It is estimated that there are around 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK and approximately a quarter of these are unaware of their HIV positive status and so risk passing on their infection if they are having sex without using a condom. For Essex residents, it has never been easier to access an HIV test and you can order this from our online service - just go to the Essex Sexual Health Service website and click on the ‘Test at Home’ link”.
If you are concerned that you might be at risk of HIV and you would like to have a HIV test or would like more information on local sexual health services, you can contact the Essex Sexual Health Service on 0300 003 1212.
For more information on World Aids Day click here or visit Terrence Higgins Trust.