“On the 1st December every year, the world marks World AIDS Day. First recognised in 1988, World AIDS Day encourages people to unite globally to eliminate the inequalities that people face, and that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention and access to HIV care. It also aims to remember those lost to AIDS-related illness. Unfortunately, HIV is still a condition associated with stigma, often because people may lack understanding about it or make judgements about how somebody contracted HIV. As healthcare staff we have a professional and moral obligation to ensure that our colleagues and patients who may be living with HIV, feel like equals and are supported without prejudice.
“According to the World Health Organisation, as of 2021, 38.4 million people were living with HIV globally with a further 1.5 million acquiring HIV, and 650,000 deaths caused by HIV related causes in 2021. Since HIV was first recognised in 1981, revolutionary antiretroviral drugs have been developed which prevent replication of the virus in the body and prevent further damage to the immune system. Additionally, these drugs are now used to prevent HIV transmission (Pre – Exposure Prophylaxis, Post – Exposure Prophylaxis) and access to these drugs is a key objective in the HIV Action Plan for England 2022 – 25.
“The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV’ and HIV testing is also a core theme in the UK’s HIV prevention strategy, which aims to scale up HIV testing in high risk populations and where uptake is low, to ensure that new infections are identified rapidly and treatment can be commenced.”
To increase awareness of this, and to encourage those who may be afraid to access testing to do so, Paul Devlin, Deputy Director of Nursing and LGBT+ Network Lead accessed HIV testing through the trust’s Occupational Health team on World AIDS Day (Pictured).
Paul is keen that patients, service users and staff who are HIV positive or who are concerned about or afraid to disclose their status, to discuss with their medical team (patients) or access support via Occupational Health (staff) and the outstanding employee assistance package or counselling services available.
Paul added; “It’s not OK for anybody to manage a life-changing diagnosis alone, and East Cheshire NHS Trust is committed to ensuring that our patients and staff receive the physical and emotional support they need to manage HIV without fear of judgement.”