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Big red bus and bake-off for World AIDS Day

WAD logoThe HIV team at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital is raising awareness of HIV testing during World AIDS Day (Tuesday 1 December) with a visit from a big red bus and a bake-off event.

The bus will be outside Hawthorn House from 12.30pm and after the bake-off has been judged, the cakes will be sold to raise money for the sexual health awareness charity, Saving Lives. The team and HIV positive ambassadors will be giving out, information, home HIV test kits, answering questions and distributing free red ribbons and condoms.

New figures from Public Health England (PHE) reveal there were 425 people newly diagnosed with HIV in the West Midlands in 2014, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. The total number of people accessing HIV care in the region was 5,792. There are believed to be another 1000 who have undiagnosed HIV and are unaware of their infection.

Early detection and modern medicines now allow people to have a normal life expectancy – which is why getting tested is so important.

HIV testing is easy and you can access testing by:

  • Going to any open-access sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic.
  • Visiting your GP – nowadays there is no need for a lengthy discussion about the test, it just involves having blood taken, or even a finger prick test.
  • Visiting and ordering a kit to carry out the test yourself at home.

Dr Stephen Taylor, lead consultant at Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service and medical director of the Saving Lives Charity said:“Overall, the number of people living with HIV in the UK continues to increase and the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV remains unacceptably high. We absolutely must test and treat people who are unknowingly infected with HIV if our prevention efforts are to have a significant impact on onward transmission.

“Treatment works and really does prevent transmission, but only if you know you have the infection. You are so much more likely to catch HIV from somebody who doesn’t know they have it, than anybody on effective treatment.”

Lizzie Jordan, Saving Lives Ambassador

Nearly ten years ago, Lizzie Jordan became a mother, a widow and HIV positive all within an 18 month period.

“HIV positive testing is crucial; she says; being aware of your status early enables you to help yourself. Do it – get tested and you can protect your long term health and live a full life.

“Being aware of my own HIV status has given me the opportunity to look after myself and access medication before my immune system could be irreversibly damaged. If my partner had been tested and made aware of his status, he may still be here today.

“I am passionate about raising awareness, HIV is no longer a death sentence. But you do need to be aware of your status and access help and support. You can live well with HIV, you need to know your status though”.

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