World AIDS Day 1st December 2010

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The UK now has its highest number of cases of HIV and AIDS ever, at over 85,000. Thanks to medical advances that have occurred over the past 10 years, those affected now live longer and 1 in 5 of those living with the disease are now over the age of 50. However, major stigmas about HIV and AIDS still remain, which is why I’m doing all I can to raise awareness and promote organizations such as the Terence Higgins Trust, who do a great deal of work to help those affected.

Diagnosis is key, which is why the Terence Higgins Trust are raising the profile of centres where you can get tested and receive results in five minutes. The Trust are also focusing on providing better health education to help prevent the spread of the HIV and other STDs.

This is why I visited Mildmay Mission Hospital on World AIDS Day: to raise awareness of the important work they do in the UK and abroad. They are one of the oldest centres treating those with AIDS in the UK and do a hugely important job, including rehabilitation for those whose lives are profoundly affected, and hospice care for those in the late stages of the disease. In addition to this, I also visited a testing centre which was sponsored by Boyz magazine, where 104 gay men were tested in a single day.

Breaking down the stigmas associated with the disease will help give people the confidence to get tested, and provide a better quality of life for those already affected, whilst education is the key to help prevent its spread in the future. It is estimated that up to a third of all people with HIV are unaware that they are infected, which is why it is so important for more people to get tested.

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