The UK’s largest hospital - the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – will be glowing red in support of World AIDS Day 2017.
Every year on 1 December, people around the world come together to mark World AIDS Day and call for an end to HIV stigma.
Red lighting along the building symbolises the red ribbon which is the universal mark of awareness and support for those living with HIV.
The day is internationally recognised as a way of helping increase the awareness of HIV - the virus that can lead to AIDS. It is designed to challenge the stigma that people living with HIV face, and to remember those who’ve died from AIDS-related illnesses since the 1980s.
Dr Rak Nandwani, HIV Consultant, said: “The world has changed a lot since the eighties when HIV was first recognised and people diagnosed with HIV can now live full healthy lives. With treatment, the amount of virus in the blood can become undetectable meaning that HIV cannot be passed to others.”
“However, the way that others act and behave can make life difficult and unpleasant for people with HIV. These ignorant attitudes belong to the past. It’s time to end HIV stigma."
In Scotland, advances in medication mean that HIV is now a manageable long-term condition if diagnosed at an early stage. Unfortunately, HIV is not recognised early enough in more than half of cases. This is partly because HIV is not thought of, even though people have symptoms. This means that even now, patients still get diagnosed with AIDS-related conditions in Scotland. Stigma linked to HIV sometimes puts people off from taking an HIV test.
Last year 111 people in the board area were diagnosed with HIV with a total of 316 across Scotland; that’s almost one person each day.
A lot can be done to prevent transmission of HIV, including knowing the facts about HIV and how it’s passed on, understanding the risks associated with sex and injecting drugs, and getting tested regularly.
Using condoms remains the single most successful method of practising safer sex and preventing transmission of HIV (and other STIs). It is quick and easy to pick up free condoms and lubricant from over 300 venues across Greater Glasgow & Clyde, including pharmacies and health centres and service users won’t be asked their name, address or any other personal details.
Medications called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) also have an important role in preventing transmission of HIV, and are available in NHS Scotland.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is that PrEP is a before medication and PEP is an after. This means:
To be considered for PrEP, contact Sandyford Sexual Health Services on 0141 211 8130. Information is also available on www.prep.scot
To access PEP, you can attend Sandyford Sexual Health Services without an appointment. When Sandyford is closed, you can be assessed for PEP at your local A&E Department. To find out more about PrEP and PEP, go to www.sandyford.org or http://www.steveretsonproject.org.uk/
Injecting equipment is available free of charge from a range of pharmacies and other sites across Glasgow, assisting people who inject drugs to use a sterile set of works for every injecting episode. Foil for smoking is also available as an alternative to injecting.
HIV testing is available at Sandyford Sexual Health Services, as well as support for a number of sexual, emotional and reproductive health issues. HIV testing is also available at your GP, some third Sector organisations such as THT and Waverley Care and Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services.