Sunday is World AIDS Day

Sunday 1st December is World AIDS Day. In Gibraltar, Friends for Life (the HIV/AIDS awareness and support group) together with the Gibraltar Health Authority’s Infection Control Team this year distributed free the now traditional Red Ribbons as well as information leaflet to Bayside and Westside Comprehensive Schools, Prior Park School, Gibraltar College and the University of Gibraltar on Friday. They encouraged all pupils and teachers to wear the ribbon on the day and all over the weekend in support of those living and those who have lost their fight against HIV.

Trustee Friends for Life Norbert N. Sene adds: The Red Ribbon has been the international symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness for over 30 years. This year World AIDS Day is marking its 31st anniversary and was the first global health day ever held. Friends for Life would like to encourage everyone particularly young people to wear a red ribbon as a sign that together we can stop the spread of HIV. The day allows us all to show our support for those living with HIV and remember those that have died from it.

Friends for Life are working together and supporting the Gibraltar Health Authority’s Infection Control team, Well Person Unit and Public Health Department with the health promotion as regards HIV and AIDS.

This year’s theme is “Communities Make a Difference”. It is important for all of us as a community to get tested if we believe we have put ourselves at risk. The Gibraltar Heath Authority introduced the HIV test as soon as this was developed in the early 1980s. Support and advice has been available both from the Infection Control Team and Friend’s for Life and now by the Well Person Unit at the PCC. We therefore encourage anyone who feels they might have put themselves at risk to contact the Well Person Clinic on telephone 20007842 and arrange for a test.

Although improving, stigma and discrimination still deters people from taking an HIV test. These are regrettably still the issues that people living with HIV experience. Living with HIV can be difficult due to the way society views the virus due to misinformation spread by popular culture. The stigma that is associated with HIV means that people living with HIV want to keep their HIV status confidential. It is important that we as a community better understand HIV and AIDS by learning the facts.

With the latest scientific advances, HIV treatment is now so effective that few people with HIV in Gibraltar go on to develop AIDS. The effectiveness of the HIV treatment as provided by the GHA reduces the level of the virus in the body to an extremely low level (known as an undetectable viral load) that they cannot pass it on!

We believe that by knowing the facts and acting quickly we the Gibraltar community can work together and realistically aim towards an AIDs free generation very soon.