Warrington Town Hall will be lit up red this Friday, 1 December, for World AIDS Day.
Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day asks everyone to think about those who have been or are affected by HIV and AIDS, consider the progress that has been made in healthcare and support the work to challenge stigma.
This year, Warrington is using the day to encourage people to ensure they ‘know their status’ by getting tested.
The axess sexual health service aims to make testing quick and easy in a supportive environment. Based at Bath Street Health and Wellbeing Centre, Legh Street, WA1 1UG, it offers a range of services including rapid HIV testing, PEP, emergency contraception, and STI testing. Drugs and alcohol recovery service CGL based on Bold Street also offers HIV testing.
It’s recommended that anyone who is sexually active and has changed partners in the last 12 months, not used a condom when having sex or shared needles should get tested.
Free self-sampling HIV test kits are also available for Warrington residents via the SH:24 online sexual health screening service.
Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money and awareness, fight prejudice and support those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
“Getting tested is quick, straightforward and non-judgemental and you will usually get your results the same day or within a few days of testing. Experienced staff will be avaliable to offer advice and guidance and ensure everybody who comes in for a test is fully supported.
“Knowing your status is an important step towards fighting HIV and AIDS and reaching the national goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.”
Dr Martyn Wood, consultant in HIV medicine and lead clinician at Axess Sexual Health, said: “In 2022, nearly half of people first diagnosed with HIV in Warrington and Halton were diagnosed late, meaning that they were at risk of poor health outcomes.
“We all have an HIV status – positive, negative or unknown. Getting an HIV test is important in reducing the number of people who don’t know their status.”
HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. AIDS is a serious illness that can develop when HIV damages the immune system to such an extent that it can no longer fight off a range of infections it would normally cope with. AIDS only develops if HIV is left untreated. With effective medication, people living with HIV can’t pass on the virus. The introduction of combination therapy has changed HIV from being a terminal condition to a disease we can manage long term with people able to live their lives to the full.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV, and much more is known about the condition.
If you are living with HIV, starting treatment early means you can live a full, healthy and productive life. Warrington’s sexual health service routinely offers HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis PrEP appointments to patients. Please see further information on Warrington’s sexual health service’s website.
The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on World AIDS Day.
You can find out more about World AIDS Day from the World AIDS Day website.