Council is flying the Red Ribbon flag

In a show of support for World AIDS Day a Red Ribbon flag will be flown from the top of County Hall, Taunton on Thursday 01 December.

The Council, in partnership with The Eddystone Trust, is flying the flag to show its support in fighting stigma associated with the illness.

In 2015 there are over 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV and only 88,769 know they have the condition, which increases the risk of onward transmission greatly. In the same year over 6,000 were diagnosed with HIV and in the South West 41.1% of those diagnosed were diagnosed late.

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health, Somerset County Council, said: “We are proud to fly the flag and to raise awareness of World AIDS Day. We know one of the concerns people have in getting help is the stigma associated with sexual health. Part of our work is to tackle and reduce this stigma and raise awareness that early testing offers a better chance of living well with the illness.”

Andrew Evans, Director of Operations of The Eddystone Trust, the local HIV and sexual health charity, said: “We aim to promote and increase HIV testing in all areas, it is better to test sooner as a late diagnosis can damage your body and even shorten your life.

“We want to expand rapid HIV testing across the South West, working with our partner organisations on testing and HIV, to promote and increase professionals access to training and seminars on the topics of sexual health and HIV.”

This year for the first time flags will be displayed across the South West, in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton and Gloucester. All these County Councils have agreed to fly the flags in support of a bid to make stigma history for HIV.

Anyone can register their pledge to wear a red ribbon and make a donation to support World AIDS Day and HIV Testing Week.
http://www.redribbonpledge.co.uk
#YourRibbonReasons

The county council also supports the work of the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign which encourages individuals to play their part in HIV testing and stand up to say that they are tested.

Somerset County Council commission the Somerset Wide Integrated Sexual Health Service http://www.swishservices.co.uk
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For further information and a spokesperson please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk

Notes to Editors

Facts about HIV:
• 88,769 HIV+ people in the UK are engaged with healthcare in 2015
• 41.1% of those diagnosed in 2015 in the South West were diagnosed late
• 1 in 6 of those diagnosed are aged over 55
• 1/3rd of those people living with HIV in the UK have experienced discrimination
• A late diagnosis creates a 10 fold increased risk of death with the 1st year of diagnosis
• A late diagnosis is those with a CD4 count of less than 350. A CD4 count is a lab test that measures the number of CD4
Tlymphocytes (CD4 cells) in a sample of your blood. In people with HIV, it is the most important laboratory indicator of how well your immune system is working and the strongest predictor of HIV progression.

World AIDS Day – World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988. http://www.worldaidsday.org/

It Starts With Me- HIV Prevention England runs the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign which promotes safe sex and HIV testing to all, but also with materials targeted to specific audiences such as gay men and African men. For more information go to https://www.startswithme.org.uk/
To view all of our news releases, please visit http://www.somersetnewsroom.com

The SCC Communications Team are also on social media:
http://www.twitter.com/somersetcouncil
http://www.facebook.com/somersetcountycouncil
http://www.flickr.com/somersetcountycouncil
http://www.youtube.com/yoursomerset

To find out who the elected Somerset County Councillor is for a particular area, simply visit http://www.somerset.gov.uk/councillors-and-democracy/councillors/somerset-county-councillors/

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For more information, please contact the Press Office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk.
Notes to editors

To view all of our news releases, please visit http://www.somersetnewsroom.com
The SCC Communications Team are also on social media:
http://www.twitter.com/somersetcouncil
http://www.facebook.com/somersetcountycouncil
http://www.flickr.com/somersetcountycouncil
http://www.youtube.com/yoursomerset

To find out who the elected Somerset County Councillor is for a particular area, simply visit http://www.somerset.gov.uk/councillors-and-democracy/councillors/somerset-county-councillors/