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Tuesday 1st December is World AIDS Day, and whilst medical science has advanced considerably since the condition first hit the headlines in the 1980s, we still have a long way to go in terms of removing the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. One way to play your part in the fight against prejudice is to wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day, and educate yourself and others about HIV/AIDS.
What’s the story behind the red ribbon?
The red looped ribbon may look simple but it is full of meaning. The symbol was created by a group of 12 artists back in 1991 in support of Visual AIDS, an HIV-awareness arts organisation. The idea was to design something that could be worn to visually signify awareness and support for people living with HIV. They deliberately avoided colours traditionally associated with the LGBTQ community, such as pink and rainbow stripes, because they wanted to emphasise the fact that HIV can affect anyone. Instead, they opted for red – symbolic of the heart.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is a virus (the Human Immunodeficiency Virus) that attacks the body’s defence system and reduces its capacity to fight off disease. If a person is infected with HIV, they may develop the condition known as AIDS, (or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Who is at risk of HIV/AIDS?
It is important to understand that anyone of any age, race, gender, or sexual orientation can be infected with HIV/AIDS. Risk factors include sexual activity without the use of condoms and sharing needles and injection equipment.
What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?
Most people infected with HIV experience a flu-like illness that occurs 2-6 weeks post-contact. After this, HIV may not cause any symptoms for several years. Sadly, however, during this time the virus will cause progressive damage to your immune system, resulting in weight loss, chronic diarrhoea, recurrent infections, and serious life-threatening illnesses.
It’s important to remember that early diagnosis and treatment of HIV can prevent these problems. And that is why it is so important to get tested if you had been involved in high risk activity such as unprotected sex.
What tests are available?
YourGP offers three HIV tests, all of which can be undertaken in complete confidence at our practice.
Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
Despite advances in recent years, sadly there is still no known sure for HIV/AIDS, however there are effective treatments that enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.
Should your test come back positive, rest assured that the healthcare experts at YourGP will provide you with all the necessary advice, support, and treatment.
To book a test or to talk through any concerns, call 0131 225 5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
I never imagined being able to open up and discuss so deeply my early life abuse, held back by embarrassment and fear, with Dr Myskow – for the first time ever – I felt completely safe and supported; not judged or disbelieved on any level. I would say she genuinely cares and has helped me immensely