World AIDS Day, 1st December 2017
December 1st marks World AIDS day. It is a day that provides an opportunity for people around the world to unite and show support for people living with human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV); remembering those who have died from an AIDS related illness.
The HIV targets the immune system and weakens people’s defence systems against infections and some types of cancer. Infected individuals gradually become immuno-deficient and more susceptible to a wide range of infections, cancers and other diseases that people with healthy immune systems can fight off. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is the most advanced stage of HIV infection and can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual.
This year’s campaign focuses on the right to health, and the event was commemorated by the Public Health Team and Friends For Life at Casemates Square.
- 36.7 million people are living with HIV globally.
- 2 out of 5 people with HIV are diagnosed late, leading to complications and possibly a shorter life expectancy.
Thanks to frequent testing and earlier commencement of HIV treatment , people are living longer and managing their HIV more effectively. Despite this, many people are still unaware of how to protect themselves and others and those living with HIV still face stigma and discrimination.
The repatriation of HIV services back to Gibraltar from Spain since December 2015, has facilitated easier access for their requirements by holding bi-monthly clinics with a visiting consultant specialist in HIV and also providing 24/7 support by the Infection Prevention and Control Practitioners for any problem or concerns that service users may face.
Key Facts about HIV:
- People with HIV can live long and healthy lives – if diagnosed early and medication taken as prescribed life expectancy is the same as anyone else.
- HIV cannot be passed on through day to day contact – HIV is passed on through sex without a condom, or sharing/injecting needles with someone who has detectable levels of HIV or is unaware they have HIV. If someone is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load they cannot pass on the virus.
- If you have been at risk of HIV, you can get treatment to prevent yourself from being infected – Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can be given to minimise the risk of transmission, this must be taken within 72 hours of exposure and taken for 4 weeks. The GHA offers PEP along with guidance, counselling and monitoring.
- Anyone can get HIV – In the UK there are more heterosexual people living with HIV than men who have sex with men, therefore anyone who has sex without a condom or shares/injects needles is a risk of HIV.
Further information may be obtained from:
GHA Infection Prevention & Control Practitioners on Tel: (+350) 200 07315