World AIDS Day on the 1st of December is dedicated to raising awareness of AIDS, which is caused by the spread of HIV infection. Every year, events take place around the world to raise awareness and show support for people living with HIV/AIDS and to celebrate how far we have come in the fight against HIV.
In recognition of World AIDS Day iCaSH and Terrence Higgins Trust will be offering free confidential rapid HIV tests to encourage residents of Bedfordshire to know their HIV status. If you have ever had unprotected sex or shared needles, you could have been exposed to HIV. There’s only one way to know – GET TESTED! The test is FREE and confidential. Please call 0300 300 3030 to make an appointment, or visit https://www.test.hiv/.
This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, which will be marking its 30th anniversary on 1st December, will be “Know your status”.
Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status. But we still have miles to go and that includes reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services.
HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives. It is also crucial to achieving the 90–90–90 targets (By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression) and empowering people to make choices about HIV prevention so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, many barriers to HIV testing remain. Stigma and discrimination still deter people from taking an HIV test. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic.
Cllr Louise Jackson, Portfolio Holder of Public Health said “To raise awareness of AIDS and show support for people living with HIV/AIDS, the Bedford town bridge will be illuminated red on the 1st December. It’s vital that everyone get tested regularly. In the UK, HIV diagnoses are falling meaning the spread of the virus is slowing down. Tests are free and confidential so I urge all Bedford Borough residents to know your HIV status.”