A leading sexual health doctor is urging people to ‘know their status’ in the run-up to World AIDS Day which is at the beginning of December.
According to Dr Zana Ladipo, in the North West, it is estimated that nearly two in a 1,000 have HIV, and in Sefton, it’s one in 1,000.
To highlight World AIDS Day, the staff at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust staged an information and awareness stand outside the outpatient department at Southport hospital during HIV testing week in the run-up to World AIDS Day on Friday, 1 December.
The stand was hosted by staff from the Sefton Sexual Health Service. One of their aims is to dispel myths about HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Dr Zana Ladipo, Genitourinary Medicine consultant, from Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said:
“HIV is spread primarily through sex and blood. It is not spread by kissing or sharing cups or cutlery.
“Simply having an HIV test does not affect your insurance. A blood test is all that is needed. The virus can affect anyone regardless of their age, sexuality or ethnicity. HIV is now a chronic condition and patients can expect a normal lifespan.
“The danger with HIV is not having a test and therefore not knowing your status. It is possible to live for years with HIV before getting sick and by this stage, AIDS may develop which is harder to treat. I have been tested and know my status.”
Nationally, it is estimated that more than 101,200 people are living with HIV in the UK and this is increasing. It is believed a quarter of people with the disease are believed to be undiagnosed and therefore unaware of their status.
Also, since 2011 most Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) have been on the rise, especially in people aged 45 and above. Some STIs like Chlamydia may not cause any symptoms. Men simply provide a urine sample and woman can do their own swab.
Testing and treatment for STIs, HIV and genital non-STI related issues are available in Sefton Sexual Health’s community clinics in Maghull, Netherton, the May Logan Centre and Southport Centre for Health and Wellbeing. They also provide a full range of contraceptive methods. The service is ‘confidential’ and open to everyone.
Anyone can contact the clinic on 01704 513 303, and your local clinic and further information can be found using the website https://www.seftonsexualhealth.co.uk/ .