Bucks students ask ‘Are You In?’ to mark World Aids Day 2019

Buckinghamshire Sexual Health and Wellbeing Service (bSHaW), have worked in partnership with students from Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA), to produce a video to raise awareness of HIV and to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support for people living with HIV and to stamp out the HIV stigma that stops people coming forward for testing.  Testing is essential, because once someone with HIV receives treatment they can lead a normal and healthy life without transmitting the virus.

In Buckinghamshire over 400 people aged 15-59 years old live with HIV on a daily basis (Sexual & Reproductive Health Profiles).  Nearly half (48%) of people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2016-18 were diagnosed late, compared to 43% nationally (Sexual & Reproductive Health Profiles).  A late diagnosis can impact on a person’s health, so it’s important the virus is detected as early as possible.

New statistics from Public Health England show that one in fourteen people living with HIV are unaware of their status.

Students made the video in conjunction with bSHaW – a joint partnership between Terrence Higgins Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust – with the support of Buckinghamshire County Council, who commission the sexual health services in Bucks. A large number of Buckinghamshire students attend BCA as it sits on the border near Marlow and Burnham.

The video will be broadcast across screens at Buckinghamshire College Group, Buckingham University and Bucks New University to raise awareness about HIV among students and staff, as well as calling for an end to HIV stigma which continues to impact people living with HIV and prevent people from getting tested for HIV.

Nigel French, Senior HIV & Sexual Health Practitioner at Terrence Higgins Trust said: “On 1 December, Buckinghamshire will stand with people all over the world by remembering those who have lost their lives to the epidemic. We are encouraging people to wear a red ribbon.

“Working alongside the students at the Berkshire College of Agriculture has been a real joy, their passion for keeping the message of remembrance alive on World AIDS Day is so important. This video will help show that the fight to end the epidemic is not yet over.

“There has been huge scientific progress in HIV with people on effective treatment now able to live a normal and healthy life, and cannot pass the virus on. However stigma and misinformation continues to hold us back from ending transmissions. That’s why it’s vital people know the realities of HIV.”

Tracey Ironmonger, Acting Director of Public Health at Buckinghamshire County Council said: “World Aids Day is a time when we both commemorate the past and look to the future. Being tested for HIV can offers benefits. Treatment for HIV has come a long way, and we need to remove any trace of stigma so that anyone who might be carrying the virus feels confident to get tested and receive the significant benefits of treatment as early as possible.

“This is one of the messages that comes across really strongly in the students’ new World Aids Day video.”

Watch the video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIKOX4GBBcg

Find out more about World Aids Day: https://www.tht.org.uk/take-action/world-aids-day