World AIDS Day 2017
Every year on December 1 the world comes together to mark World AIDS Day, and Friday 1 December 2017 is no different.
It is an opportunity for us to remember those whose lives have been cut too short because of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), to support our friends, colleagues and loved ones who are living with the virus, and to learn more about what AIDS is and what we can do to protect ourselves from infection.
What is AIDS?
AIDS is a syndrome (a group of symptoms which consistently occur together) caused by the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). This can occur when a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off many infections, and often develops when the HIV infection is very advanced.
Over time, HIV destroys the immune cells in the body which have an important role to play in fighting off infections.
How can HIV / AIDS be transmitted?
HIV is primarily transmitted through exposure to certain bodily fluids of a person carrying the virus, such as exposure to blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk.
For transmission of the virus to occur, these bodily fluids require to enter the body through mucous membrane (found within the rectum, penis, vagina and mouth), damaged tissue, or to be injected directly into the bloodstream.
One of the main causes for HIV being transmitted in the UK is through having unprotected sex and by sharing infected needles, syringes and other injecting drug equipment.
How can I protect myself from transmission?
When used correctly, condoms and water-based lubricants are the best way to protect yourself from HIV infection, as well as other sexually-transmitted diseases (STIs), through sex.
The Terrence Higgins Trust’s Get Rubbered! programme provides free condoms and lubricants by post to men who have sex with men living in the Forth Valley area. You can receive 24 condoms and lubricant a month, or every two months, for free and in a plain envelope. Further information about this programme is available here
These can also be obtained through Central Sexual Health’s Free Condoms by Post service, which is available to anyone living in the Forth Valley area. More information about this is available here
How can I be tested for HIV / AIDS?
HIV tests can be undertaken in the Forth Valley area through Central Sexual Health’s clinics at the following locations and at the following times:
Where & When:
Falkirk Community Hospital, Suite D, Major’s Loan, Falkirk, FK1 5QE
– Morning, afternoons and evening
– Wednesday mornings and afternoons
– Thursday evenings
– Friday mornings
Clackmannanshire Community Healthcare Centre, Hallpark Road, Sauchie, FK10 3JQ
– Wednesday afternoons and evenings
Further information about the services which are offered can be found here
In the Forth Valley area, Waverley Care also operates its Forth Valley African Health Project. This recognises that people from African countries with a high prevalence of HIV are the group which is most likely to be affected by HIV, alongside men who have sex with men.
This project aims to raise awareness of HIV and to reduce transmission of the virus by working closely with African communities across the Forth Valley region. This includes promoting sexual health information, encouraging people to get tested for HIV, and providing practical, emotional and physical support for people, if a HIV diagnosis has been made, to allow people to continue to lead active and healthy lives.
Waverley Care can also offer safe and confidential HIV tests for individuals at locations which are convenient for them.
More information about this project is available here
For any other information regarding the support which is available for people living with HIV, or for information on the support available to those who would like to be tested for the virus, please contact Central Scotland Regional Equality Council, in person at Community Education Centre, Park Street, Falkirk,FK1 1RE, by phone on 01324 610 950 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.