World AIDS Day earmarked for this weekend

World AIDS Day will be held on Sunday, with the theme this year focused on the role communities have played in tackling the condition.

The Open Peer Education Project is supporting the event, with an information display in Market House and promotion of an information video which has been dispatched to third sector organisations.

Prominent buildings such as the town hall in Lerwick, the Clickimin Broch and Mareel are due to be lit up red from dusk on Saturday until dawn on Monday.

Public health specialist Wendy Hatrick said raising awareness of the day helped keep HIV and AIDS in people’s minds, and could lead to conversations about the risk of contracting HIV through unprotected sex or sharing needles.

“There are 5,568 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed and are living with HIV,” Ms Hatrick said.

“In recent years, advances in, and better access to, HIV treatment have continued to save lives.”

This year has seen 267 new reports of HIV diagnoses in Scotland.

Only “a small number of people” are known to have HIV in the isles.

But Ms Hatrick warned: “We don’t know how many people are infected but have never been tested. Having a blood test is the only way to find out if you have HIV, and the earlier it is diagnosed the earlier treatment can start, allowing for a long healthy life to be lived.”

Anyone concerned they might have been exposed to HIV are being advised to seek medical advice. Confidential advice, testing and treatment is available through GP surgeries and also through the Shetland Sexual Health and Wellbeing Clinic.


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