NHS Lothian supporting World AIDS Day

NHS Lothian is supporting World AIDS Day (Thursday 1 December) and encouraging people in Lothian to know the risks and practice safe sex.

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the first cases of AIDS were discovered.  Significant improvements have been made in understanding the virus, testing and treatment in the last 30 years. The important role that Edinburgh and the Lothians has played in the history of the disease was recognised earlier this year when the Lothian Health Services Archive’s (LHSA) Edinburgh and Lothian HIV/AIDS collection was added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

NHS Lothian has been working with schools to help reduce the stigma of living with HIV by bringing back the popular play ‘Touched’ for a second year.

The play was written by Actor Lisa Nicoll in consultation with women living with HIV at Waverley Care, the country’s leading charity providing care and support for people living with HIV or Hepatitis C. It demonstrates the plight of a girl called Hannah who is diagnosed with HIV and then suffers appalling discrimination.

The Board is also distributing new awareness materials, as part of the national HIV Wake Up campaign, which highlight the risks of unprotected sex to men who have sex with men.

Dr Gordon Scott, Clinical Director and GUM Consultant, NHS Lothian Sexual and Reproductive Health, said:

“It is sad that in 2011 somebody diagnosed with cancer or heart disease will feel little difficulty in sharing their burden with family and friends, but most people given a diagnosis of HIV will tell virtually nobody. We must create a society in which nobody is too embarrassed, guilty or scared to seek the help and support they need.
“We also want to encourage people to protect themselves from HIV infection through practising safer sex and using condoms. If someone thinks they have been at risk from HIV they should contact their GP or sexual health service for advice and testing.”

More information on HIV, AIDS and the services provided by NHS Lothian for prevention, testing and treatment is available on the Lothian Sexual Health Website – www.lothiansexualhealth.scot.nhs.uk