By Michael Donnison
A minute’s silence was held at Leeds Town Hall to mark the millions of lives lost to HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day earlier this month. However, the council is using the occasion to bring to attention possibly life saving advice for the population.
In a statement Leeds City Council said: “In Leeds, over 57% of people testing positive for HIV receive a late diagnosis, meaning their long-term health is more likely to be negatively impacted.”
Dr Sarah Schoeman, Sexual Health and HIV consultant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals added: “The high proportion of late diagnosis in Leeds and the Yorkshire and Humber region compared to the average in England is often due to missed opportunities for earlier testing, alongside HIV related stigma which remain our two current biggest challenges.
“Let’s grow up with HIV and make Leeds an HIV stigma-free community.”
As part of further plans to reduce the transmission of HIV in England, Sajid Javid, secretary of state for health and social care, has announced an action plan to “realise our ambitious commitments – including our interim commitment to an 80% reduction in transmissions by 2025.”
However, the government acknowledges that in 2019, 41% of new HIV diagnosis were made late.
An independent HIV commission recommends that “opt-out rather than opt-in HIV testing must become routine across healthcare setting, starting with areas of high prevalence” to give people with HIV the greatest chance of living longer lives.
But a government assessment has said that “opt-out testing across all healthcare settings would present significant challenges” and they will be continuing “targeted and geographical” approaches.
The work done by the National AIDS Trust with World AIDS Day is leading to more people being educated about HIV, which is something that local government and the national government are keen to assist. However, a survey done by the National AIDS Trust found that 63% of the public “do not remember seeing or hearing about HIV in the past six months”, although it is estimated that over 100,000 people in the UK live with HIV.
The National AIDS Trust added: “World AIDS Day is the perfect time for us to improve these stats and raise much needed awareness about HIV.”