World AIDS Day
27/11/2014World AIDS Day is held on 1st December and the Southern Trust want to use this day to raise awareness about HIV and urge people to practice safer sex and be aware of their HIV status. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is a virus that can damage the body’s immune system so that it cannot fight off some infections. HIV can be transmitted through sexual contact, sharing of HIV-contaminated needles and syringes, and transmission from mother to child before, during, or shortly after birth. When someone is described as having HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.
Lyndsey Hasson, Southern Trust’s Area Sexual Health Advisor said: “We can’t stress enough the importance of the safer sex message for everyone. The number of new HIV diagnoses made in Northern Ireland in 2013 was 94. Compared with the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland had the largest proportional increase in new HIV diagnoses between 2000 and 2013. The statistics show that the number of people living with HIV is increasing in Northern Ireland, and are aware that many people may also be infected with HIV without knowing it, therefore it is important to take steps to help protect yourself and reduce the spread of the infection.
“If you are sexually active it is important to use condoms, limit your number of sexual partners and get tested if you think you might be at risk of getting HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI). You should go for a full sexual health screen where you can get tested for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis. The presence of one STI increases the risk on another. It is vital that people get tested for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis. People respond better to treatment and support when they are diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease.”
The Southern Trust’s (Genito Urinary Medicine) GUM service provides free sexual health advice, testing and treatment for genital infections and other sexually transmitted infections. Clinics which operate on an appointment system are held in Newry and Portadown. To book an appointment Tel: 028 3083 4215 or Email: email@example.com or speak to your GP.
Information on GUM clinics across Northern Ireland is available at www.bit.ly/gumclinicsni