With World AIDS Day taking place today (1 December), the latest data shows there has been a slight increase in the number of people receiving treatment for HIV in Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council is supporting this year’s World AIDS Day which aims to unite people in the fight against HIV, advise people how to prevent contracting the virus and support people who are already living with HIV. As of the end of 2015, in Wiltshire, 221 people are receiving treatment for HIV, with at least another 20% unaware they are living with the virus as they have not been diagnosed. This shows a slight increase on the figures in 2014, which saw 217 receiving treatment.
Of the 221 people in Wiltshire receiving treatment for HIV 38% are over the age of 50, which may increase their need for support from other services such as social care and other health services. In addition, almost half of all people who are diagnosed in Wiltshire (44%) are diagnosed ‘late’ meaning the virus has already started to have an impact on the immune system and affecting their long term health outcomes.
Testing is very simple and can be done at a local GP surgery, sexual health clinic or via the home sampling system from www.test.hiv The most effective way of reducing the long term health impact of HIV is to get tested so treatment can be started at the right time. The most effective and simple way for people to protect themselves from getting infected continues to be to wear a condom and do not share injecting equipment, condoms and needle exchange are free at selected pharmacies and GP practices .
Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health, Jerry Wickham, said: “HIV doesn’t discriminate so we hope this day raises awareness of the dangers of the virus and helps inform people to make sensible choices.
“HIV is no longer a death sentence though and there is support available to help people who have the virus to live a long full life through the advances in treatments, however it’s vital people are diagnosed as quickly as possible.”
Wiltshire Council provides a host of sexual health support. People should visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/sexualhealth for more information.
More information about World Aids Day can be found at www.worldaidsday.org