THE MANCHESTER World Aids day partnership is preparing, through a series of events, for World Aids day on December 1.
The partnership is aiming to raise awareness of HIV in Manchester, confront the stigma the virus creates around its carriers and promote examination and prevention. This year, they encourage people to be better informed through the slogan ‘Know Your HIV status’.
Evidence suggest there is an overall decrease in the British general population’s knowledge around HIV. The lack of public awareness campaigns and the absence of HIV from sex education in schools, are characterised as the main reasons behind this issue.
December 1 has been the World AIDS day since 1988. On this day people from around the globe have the opportunity to band together in the fight against the HIV virus, as well as providing support for those who live with the disease and memorialise those who have fallen to the deadly virus.
The Manchester World Aids day partnership consists of a number of agencies, such as Brook Manchester, George House Trust and The Lesbian & Gay Foundation. In addition, Manchester City Council bodies like the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester are also heavily involved.
Ms Stephanie Mallas, of George House Trust agency, when asked whether there has been an increase or decline in participation of people over the past decade, stated: “There is a static interest in World Aids day. We do feel anecdotally that what we’ve seen is a development in the participation of young people, certainly at the World AIDS day vigil. When you look into the audience there seems to be more younger people out there getting involved but I think there is that same level of interest in the events as there always has been, because it has touched so many peoples’ lives.”
One third of people living with HIV in the UK have experienced discrimination. Half of these instances involved healthcare workers
According to Ms Mallas, people see the importance of the participation in the World AIDS day in order to raise awareness for the event and challenge the “stigma and misconceptions” surrounding HIV.
She stressed that with early diagnosis someone with the HIV virus can have the same life expectancy as someone who does not have it.
Access to antiretroviral treatment in the UK has improved significantly over the past decade. In 2014, 91 per cent of people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART). However, late diagnosis of HIV remains a key challenge in this country, despite declining rates.
Mrs Mallas emphasised the need to increase the number of people’s testing as one in five people do not know they are infected with the virus. She urges everyone to get tested by stating: “It’s easy, it’s free and there are lots of different ways to do it. We should be promoting that message.”
For further information visit the partnership’s Facebook page
(Interview with Ms Stephanie Mallas)