Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World #AIDS Day: #ActAware

I know that I parked this blog a couple of weeks ago, but there is something today that is too big, that is beyond politics that I felt compelled to draw your attention to. Today is World AIDS Day. Here are some of the UK statistics from their website.

More people than ever are living with HIV in the UK and each year new infections occur.

People living with HIV in the UK

  • The number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled in the last 10 years
  • More than 90,000 people are living with HIV in the UK
  • Over a quarter of people with HIV in the UK are undiagnosed
  • About two thirds of people living with HIV are men and a third are women
  • Over half of all people living with HIV are aged between 30 and 44, but there are significant numbers both of young people and older people now living with HIV
  • One in 20 gay men in the UK is living with HIV

New HIV cases in 2008

  • 7,298 new diagnoses
  • The two groups most affected remain gay and bisexual men and black African heterosexuals.  Three-quarters of people diagnosed were among these two groups.
  • 2,760 new diagnoses among men who have sex with men
  • 2,790 new diagnoses among people from black and minority ethnic communities
This year they are running a campaign to be aware. Be aware of your HIV status. The harrowing fact that I highlighted above is that a quarter of people living with HIV are not aware that they are infected.

I have to admit there have been times that I have gone for my regular checks that I have been worried that I might have been at real risk of being infected. Indeed one of my recent tests I was anxious. I had experienced the primary HIV infection (or sero-conversion illness) symptoms, at about the right time scale when I could have been exposed. However, my tests did come back negative.

Knowing your status is important whether you are gay or straight especially if you are engaging in an active sex life with multiple partners, or if you are in an open relationship. Get into the habit of going regularly (every six months) to your local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or with your local GP. The local GUM clinic for me now is up at the Royal Victoria Hospital, their staff there carried out my last test.

The message today is:

Be Aware
Be as Safe as you can be
Be Responsible for you own health

Footnote

The term living with HIV often only refers to those who actually have HIV. But a friend of mine recently said that those of use who know a family member, friend or partner who has HIV are also in a sense living with HIV. We deal with some of the effects it has on the person that we love. If we carry on living with their HIV we do not love them any less, we may show our love for them even more through the practical things we do for them and the support we give them to help them carry on as normal.

In that sense I am someone who is living with another friend's HIV and I want them to know that I am thinking of them as ever today.

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