As the public health lead for the city, Plymouth City Council wants to increase awareness of HIV, how it can be prevented and treated, and to make it as easy as possible for you to find the information you need to help you stay safe.
You can significantly reduce their risk of getting HIV by:
- get screened regularly particularly whenever you have a new sexual partner
- always using a condom correctly and consistently when having sex, until all partners have had a sexual health screen.
Early testing increases life expectancy.
Also, if you are diagnosed, the earlier this happens the better as early testing, diagnosis and treatment mean you can have an increased life expectancy.
HIV is a virus which, over time and left untreated, will impact and destroy the immune system. This means that the body becomes less able to fight off infections and germs and you can take longer to recover. These days there is medication that can control the virus, preventing its impact on a person living with HIV's health and allowing them to live a normal and healthy life.
The virus is passed on through exchanging bodily fluids (such as semen, blood, or vaginal secretions) and the most common way of getting HIV in the UK is through having anal or vaginal sex without a condom.
Other ways of getting HIV include:
- sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment
- transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding;
Despite some of the myths it is not possible to acquire HIV from another person from holding hands, kissing, hugging, sharing a drinking glass, touching door handles, sitting on a toilet seat etc.
HIV can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. It is important that you protect yourself against viruses or STIs like HIV by using contraception when having sex and test yourself regularly if you change sexual partners.
It's estimated that nearly a quarter of people who have HIV don't know they have it; as with most illnesses, the quicker HIV is diagnosed the less chance it has to impact on a person's health. This is why regular testing and knowing your HIV status is so important.
For further information please see The Eddystone Trust
The Eddystone Trust is an independent sexual health charity based in the South West, UK. We challenge the stigma, discrimination and misinformation associated with HIV and sexual health. To do this we offer a range of services that includes non judgemental advice, free testing and condoms, support for people living with HIV and training for anyone who wants to know more about sexual health.