In assistance to World AIDS day tomorrow, SAYiT has organised a World AIDS Day Candlelit Vigil at the Winter Gardens in Sheffield.
SAYIT is an independent charity for sexual health in young people in Sheffield. The day hopes to encourage regular testing for HIV and educate people on the causes of the disease. The vigil also seeks to show support and commemorate those who have lost their lives to the disease.
In 2016, 45% of HIV cases in Yorkshire and Humber was due to heterosexual contact. Yet since 2014, the number of those in the North of England affected by the disease dropped by 20% and the number of deaths has halved.
The UK is one of the first countries in Europe to see a substantive decline in HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men. However, in the UK about 13% of AIDS cases go undiagnosed. With awareness and an increase in regular testing, SAYIT hopes to reduce this percentage.
“One problem that is affecting Sheffield has been late diagnosis. So this is just the diagnosis of HIV further along the progression of it. In Sheffield in the past few years it’s been as high as 54%, but this has been going down steadily over the past few years and is currently 40% which is fantastic,” said a medical student working with SAYIT.
The Health Department yesterday revealed there is a significant decrease in AIDS cases due to PrEP, a daily medication reducing the risk of infection by 86%.
“It’s a course of HIV drugs which can prevent the transmission of the virus during unsafe sex with someone who is HIV positive and it currently is quite widely available in the US, but it’s only in the early stages here of being trialled,” said William Martin, a medical student working with SAYIT. “It’s really important to raise awareness of the potential for this drug while also stressing that we advocate for safer sex.”
Studies have shown that if taken daily PrEP can reduce the risk of transmission by over 90% according to whatisprep.org. Trials of PrEP are being advocated for in Sheffield.
Free services available in South Yorkshire
A user-led organisation based in Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield. They offer free blood testing, counselling and awareness training.
Sexual Health Sheffield
Part of the NHS, they are a national service that offer free and confidential advice to those with Sexual Health queries, including HIV/ AIDS. They also give free HIV testing, and have Youth Clinics for those under 19.
The Sheena Amos Youth Trust is a charity to help people under 25. They run support groups for young people suffering with HIV/ AIDS, as well as for LGBT people.
One of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country. They provide free HIV testing, counselling, information and training throughout Yorkshire.