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Local government unites to mark World AIDS Day

Each year, people around the globe come together to commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December. Our latest blog post from Councillor David Fothergill outlines the progress that's been made and what more can be done.

Across local government, councils are once again uniting to show support for people living with HIV, the progress being made to eradicate the virus and how we’re remembering those lost to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses

Councils have been working hard in partnership with system stakeholders (including NHS partners and local charities) to deliver a programme of outreach and engagement – to raise awareness of the risk of acquiring HIV, highlight the importance of testing and the support available for those living with HIV and those affected by the legacy of AIDS.

We are determined to make a difference to people’s lives and end HIV transmission once and for all. 

In Liverpool for example, civic buildings will be lit red to remember those who have died from HIV/AIDS related illnesses.

The UK has done incredibly well to ensure that 95 per cent who are living with HIV know their status (and have accessed testing), 99 per cent of those people living with a HIV diagnosis are receiving treatment, and 97 per cent of those being treated are virally suppressed. This means that they cannot transmit HIV to others – the virus is undetectable and ultimately untransmittable.

There are currently 106,890 people living with HIV, which is comparable to a population the size of Cheltenham, around 5,150 are undiagnosed, so do not know they are HIV positive. 

We’re really pleased with the excellent progress that we’ve made, but we do acknowledge that there is still work to do in relation to HIV – particularly late diagnosis.

Half of people recently diagnosed were diagnosed late, meaning they didn’t start treatment as early as they could – which could have led to them becoming unnecessarily ill. We want to respond to this, and we need to continue to improve our HIV testing coverage and uptake across the country.

That will naturally assist our aim to ensure that everyone is diagnosed and in treatment – and help us to achieve elimination.

"Equalise" is this year's World AIDS Day theme. It's a rallying cry to get serious about addressing disparities and doing everything we can to end AIDS.

The more that people who are diagnosed early, the better we can ensure they are treated and supported to live long and healthy lives.

We’re also working hard to increase access to the game changing prevention drug PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) – as this prevents HIV transmission in the first place, and is a vital tool in ensuring HIV elimination.

Although there is still no cure, early diagnosis and treatment means that people living with HIV can expect to live a normal life span – however, we can all play our part in helping reduce stigma and discrimination, which are still a reality for many people.

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