World AIDS Day 2023

World AIDS Day 2023: Raising awareness now and beyond

World AIDS Day is observed every year on 1st December.

Founded in 1988 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the day is led in the UK by the National AIDS Trust.

World AIDS Day is a global movement designed to unite people in the fight against HIV and AIDS, while remembering those who have lost their lives to the virus and showing solidarity against HIV stigma.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the late stage of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection that occurs when an individual’s immune system has become severely damaged because of the virus.

HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system over time, and is transferred through bodily fluids including blood, vaginal fluids, and semen.

While there are some early symptoms that people can look out for including fever, headache, tiredness, fatigue, a sore throat and/or swollen lymph nodes, many people don’t display any symptoms for weeks, months, or even years.

This means that HIV is highly transmissible and is often passed on through sexual intercourse by people who don’t realise that they have the virus. It can also be spread via blood by people who share needles when injecting drugs, and during childbirth.

Why is World AIDS Day important?

Statistics suggest that there could be over 106,000 people living with HIV in the UK, with a significant number of these people still undiagnosed. In 2021, 94,954 people accessed treatment for HIV in the UK, but it’s believed that many more could be suffering in silence.

Around the world, it is estimated that there are 38 million people living with the HIV virus, and more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses since the pandemic began in 1981.

Although significant advances have been made in the treatment of HIV since that time, stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

For this reason, World AIDS Day is important for raising awareness of the HIV virus, combating prejudice, and improving education around prevention.

If you want to get involved with fundraising for World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Trust has details of how you can join in on their website.

Reducing the risk of HIV and AIDS

The UK government has stated that they want to end HIV transmissions by 2030.

There is currently no cure for HIV, nor a vaccine for either HIV or AIDS.  However, advances in medical science including early detection using laboratory testing, and treatment for HIV using antiretroviral drugs, mean that we can stop the virus from replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself and ensuring the virus remains undetectable.

When HIV is undetectable, the virus cannot be passed on, even while it remains in the body. This means that individuals living with HIV can have sex without passing the virus on to others. This is known as undetectable=untransmittable (U=U).

For people who engage in unprotected sex, have multiple sexual partners, or who partake in drug use before sex, regular HIV testing is extremely important to ensure that any infection is detected early and is treated before symptoms develop or become worse.

The most important thing to remember is that AIDS is a result of HIV, but individuals can only pursue treatment if they know their HIV status. And regular testing is the only way for a person to find out their HIV status.

However, NHS data shows that more than 40% of HIV diagnoses in the UK are made late.  This means that the immune system has already been damaged, leading to poorer health outcomes in the long term. This re-enforces the importance of regular HIV testing.

Where can I get a HIV test?

There are many ways that you can access HIV testing including via your GP, local sexual health services, and via HIV charities. However, it’s also easy to order an at-home test online.

An AlphaBiolabs HIV Test  will tell you whether you have HIV-1 and HIV-2 markers, as well as the p24 early detection marker, using only a finger prick blood sample.

Alternatively, you could choose a combined HIV & Syphilis test or an even more comprehensive HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C test.

Simply place your order online, and we will ship your test kit out to you immediately in discreet, plain packaging. Your testing kit will contain full instructions on how to collect your blood samples and return them to our UK laboratory for analysis.

If you receive a Reactive result from an AlphaBiolabs HIV test, you MUST contact your GP or local sexual health clinic for confirmatory testing, further guidance, and treatment options. We also have a range of other STI tests including for Herpes and Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

Please note that you must be at least 16 years of age to purchase a home STI test from AlphaBiolabs.

For more information, call our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email health@alphabiolabs.com.

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