A national campaign to raise awareness for HIV is set to come to Salford in the coming weeks.

In support of National HIV Testing week, the BHA will be running a free HIV testing event in Pendleton that hopes to change the social perceptions of HIV that exist in society – and particularly in Salford which according to a 2016 NHS report on HIV, has the second most diagnosed cases of HIV in the North West, only second to Manchester.

A Salford resident, who has lived with HIV for the past three years, has said that she is happy that the event is being held. “Conversations about sexual health have been taboo for a long time, but I think that it is time to make them a thing that everyone talks about”, she also went on to say: “some of my close mates wonder how I’m able to live quite a normal life despite having this ‘thing’, but I feel completely normal.

“It’s literally just a prick of the finger, and you’re done. You don’t even feel it.”

Owen Power is the event’s organiser and has campaigned for HIV awareness for a number of years. He says that the awareness campaign is one that many different members of the Salford community should be aware about, in particular, students who are deemed to be somewhat ignorant to HIV and the information surrounding it.

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“Students make up an important part of our community”, said Mr Power, “It’s important to raise awareness amongst the student congregation”.

He hopes that this event will erase the stigma that surrounds HIV, and also allow people that are unaware of the facts surrounding the virus to be enlightened. Power went on to say that “there is sadly a big stigma surrounding HIV and its discussion in Salford, and testing is not sufficiently talked about or encouraged at all”.

In comparison to other developed countries, the United Kingdom has a relatively small amount of people living with the disease, as just under 90,000 people in the United Kingdom are currently living with a diagnosed HIV condition.

Testing on the day is not mandatory, and event organisers say that “people can pick up a leaflet if they do not feel comfortable getting tested”.

There are 428 HIV deaths recorded in the UK annually. Regionally, Greater Manchester is at the top.

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The free testing event is being held on Friday 23rd November from 11am-3pm at Hornbeam Community Room, Salford, M6 5FT. Parking is available at the event.

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