World Aids Day will be marked in Bradford on Saturday with an event featuring live music and art work to raise awareness of HIV and Aids.
The awareness day is about reminding everyone HIV has not gone away and there is still a need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Around 97,000 people are living with HIV in the UK, with around a quarter not knowing they have the virus, and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV.
The World Health Organisation’s theme for this year is Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.
An event will take place at Hand Made in Bradford, in the city centre, which will see NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds join partner organisations Yorkshire MESMAC, Red Cross and Artworks to raise awareness through art and music.
Nicola Corrigan, sexual health lead at NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds, said: “It’s important for everyone to know that HIV hasn’t gone away and, in fact, infection rates are rising in the UK. There is nearly double the number of infections now than there was five years ago.
“Access to HIV care in the UK is excellent and, although there is no cure to date, treatments are much more successful than they used to be, enabling people with HIV to lead as normal a life as possible.
“Having an HIV test is a normal thing to do and can also encourage people to have a full sexual health check-up to make sure they’ve not put themselves at risk of other infections.”
The awareness day is also being marked by Northern Rail, who will be running The Awareness Train. The service will start from Manchester Victoria at 11.21am and will display a specially-designed ‘header board’ on the front of the train featuring the recognisable red ribbon. It is due to arrive at Bradford Interchange at 12.31pm The Railway Mission Chaplin, Dr Richard Cook, will join the Northern team on-board, selling red ribbons and cakes and collecting donations for HIV and AIDS charities. The train’s arrival in Leeds will be followed by a ceremony at 1.30pm at the Queen’s Hotel where speeches will be made and poems read.
For more information about HIV and Aids, visit hivaware.org.uk/ and for help and advice about contraception and sexual health services, visit: bash.nhs.uk or call (01274) 200024.
During national HIV Testing Week, charities and the NHS, are promoting the message that it has never been easier to get a free and confidential HIV test in Bradford.
Bradley Smith, social support co-ordinator for sexual health charity Yorkshire MESMAC in Bradford, encouraged people to take advantage of a rapid HIV testing service.
Called Testing Times, it is run by Yorkshire MESMAC and The Our Project and is for people to check their HIV status in a bid to stem transmission rates.
The test is a simple finger prick of blood, with results given in 20 minutes.
For more information about drop-in sessions, to make an appointment and for directions, contact Yorkshire MESMAC in Bradford on (01274) 395815.