It is estimated that there are around 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, a fifth of which are unaware that they even have the virus – a statistic that calls for imminent action.
Birmingham Heartlands HIV Service is one of the largest HIV centres in the UK and, in a bid to help raise awareness of the condition, we have launched a new website. Available at www.hivbirmingham.nhs.uk, it includes information about HIV, HIV testing and living with the condition.
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and attacks the body’s immune system, making those infected far more susceptible to disease and illness and many other secondary conditions. It also has no vaccination and no cure, though treatments are available to help keep the virus under control if diagnosed early enough.
There is a significant amount of stigma associated with HIV that causes many people to misunderstand it, or worse still, be too embarrassed to get tested or even treated. The consequence is that it continues to spread, affecting more and more people each year. Much of this is down to a lack of education on what exactly HIV is and how it is contracted – another reason for the launch of our new website.
The Heartlands HIV Service is a specialist unit located in the heart of the city, dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of patients with HIV. With each step, we aim to educate people to prevent further transmission, minimising the risk of it continuing to spread.
Getting as many people tested as possible is one of our main objectives and only requires taking a small blood sample. We also aim to let people know their results within 48 hours. It is important that people are diagnosed as early as possible so they can receive the best treatment.
As with any long-term disease or illness, living with HIV can be incredibly difficult for sufferers, their friends and families. We therefore provide comprehensive care from a holistic perspective – combining clinical treatment with psychological support and advice on general health and wellbeing.
Read through our website – www.hivbirmingham.nhs.uk – to find out more about what we offer, as well as information on HIV itself. You can book a test online, or by calling 0121 424 8984. The service is fully confidential and delivered by our specially trained medical staff.