People across the district are being encouraged to have a quick and simple HIV test during National HIV Testing Week (21-28 November) which also aims to reduce the stigma around having the HIV virus.
A partnership of health and community organisations are coming together to raise awareness of the importance of testing including Bradford Council, British Red Cross, MESMAC, Locala, Equity Partnership, Step 2 Young People’s Health Project and the Red Ribbon Society from the University of Bradford.
The week will end with events being held in the city centre with on Saturday 28 November.
Dr Anne Connolly, clinical specialty lead for sexual health for the local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts, said:
“It’s really important to remember that HIV hasn’t gone away. The awareness week is about making HIV testing a normal thing to do, and encouraging more people to be sure of their status by having a test.
“You can only be certain you have HIV if you have a blood test that looks specifically for the virus. Many people newly infected with HIV have no signs or symptoms at all, so the only way to find out if you have HIV is to have a blood test.
“The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can start to take care of yourself. If it’s a negative result, you can protect yourself against HIV in the future and if it’s positive, you can start life-saving treatment and avoid spreading the virus to someone else.
Nicola Hawkins, Health Promotion Specialist for Bradford Council, said:
“Access to HIV care in the UK is excellent and treatments are much more successful than they used to be, enabling people with HIV to lead as normal a life as possible.”
“Because treatments have improved so much, many people don’t realise HIV is still an issue no matter who you are. The best prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is to use a condom and get tested for STIs after every new partner.
“One in four people with HIV don’t actually know they have it but they account for 75% of new transmissions. Only when people know they have HIV can they get treatment and become less infectious.”
Volunteers and the Red Ribbon Society will be making a human Red Ribbon formation in Norfolk Gardens at 10.30am on Saturday 21 November at 10.30am. Anyone wanting to be involved needs to be wearing red.
Events on Saturday 28 November include:
Activities for children’s such as making a red ribbon, making bracelets and designing a poster that will be part of the World Aids Day tapestry in City Library.
Information and advice from the HALE bus parked on Ivegate behind Rimmington’s pharmacy
HIV and Chlamydia testing will be available at City Library and Rimmington’s pharmacy from 11am to 4pm on
Anyone who has a HIV, Chlamydia test and likes the Locala and Mesmac Facebook page will have a chance of winning a £15 iTunes voucher.
To find out where to get a your nearest HIV test visit http://www.aidsmap.com/hiv-test-finder or for more information visit http://www.nhs.uk/