COMMUNITIES are being called on to lead the way in advancing towards the end of AIDS.

Today (Friday, December 1) marks World AIDS Day, a cause which aims to raise awareness of AIDS and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the lives lost to the disease and AIDS-related illnesses over the last 40 years, and also break the stigma surrounding the disease.

In the UK there are around 105,000 people living with AIDS.

HIV attacks your immune system and, in most cases, will weaken your ability to fight infections and diseases. If left untreated HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the HIV virus.

Dr Sohail Bhatti, director of public health at NHS Borders, said: “The first step towards ending AIDS is encouraging those who are most at risk of HIV to get tested as soon as possible."

According to the National AIDS Trust, in 2022 more than 95 per cent of the 102,168 people accessing HIV care had acquired the virus through sexual transmission.

The number of people who acquired HIV through sex between men and women (47,623) is slightly higher than the number of people who acquired the virus through sex between men (45,908).

Dr Bhatti added: “AIDS and HIV were once dreaded, but thanks to advances in medicine, those who are diagnosed and receive the appropriate treatment for AIDS and HIV are not infectious to their partners and can expect to lead a full life. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) has transformed and largely removed the fear that once used to exist. You can get a free test from NHS Borders, so don’t live in fear - get tested.”

If you would like an HIV test, please visit your local GP practice or contact Borders Sexual Health on 01896 663700.

HIV doesn't discriminate - anyone can get infected.

Borders Sexual Health clinics offer a free and confidential service to everyone regardless of age, sexuality or gender expression.

The specialist team provides contraception and sexual health testing, treatment and advice.

More information can be found at: