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NHS GREATER GLASGOW MARKS WORLD AIDS DAY

December 01, 2005 12:01 AM

Public health experts from NHS Greater Glasgow are warning against complacency, as World Aids Day is marked in 140 countries across the globe.

Doctors are keen to spread the message that safer sex can protect against HIV transmission. While treatment has vastly improved since the illness was first detected more than two decades ago, Public Health Consultant Dr Syed Ahmed is reminding Glaswegians that there is still no cure: "There remains no cure for HIV/Aids, and it's vital that people realise that.

"It's true that drug therapies have given hundreds of HIV-positive Scots a new lease of life over the last few years. Many people with HIV can live relatively healthy lives for many years after they are first diagnosed. But there is no cure for this disease, and that's why prevention is as important as ever. Many people are continuing to put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex."

The number of new cases in Scotland is likely to reach an all-time high this year. Between January and November 2005, 360 new cases of HIV were identified in Scotland, compared to a figure for the whole of 2004 of 364. This would represent the highest number since diagnostic testing began in 19851.

Dr Ahmed believes too many Scots are unaware they are at risk: "The myth still persists in some places that HIV/Aids is an illness that affects particular groups of people, and that's just not the case. Anyone can be vulnerable to HIV - men, women, gay people, straight people, young, old, everyone.

"If anyone is worried about HIV, an appointment can be made to be seen at the Sandyford Initiative, where testing and counselling is provided in confidence."

A free, confidential sexual and reproductive health service - including HIV testing - is available at the Sandyford Initiative and at the Brownlee Centre on the Gartnavel Hospital site. Help is also now available at Sandyford Southeast, the first in a planned series of Hub clinics across the city, where advice and information is available in a number of languages other than English.

For more information please see www.sandyford.org, call the Sandyford Initiative on 0141 211 8601 or call the Brownlee Centre on 0141 211 1075.

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