Can you catch HIV from kissing? If you’re diagnosed with HIV, is it a death sentence? Can people ever have normal lives once they’ve contracted HIV?

The Terrence Higgins Trust came to the College today to try to help dispel some myths and stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS as part of World AIDS Day.

Representatives from the charity, Ian and Emma, gave talks to Health & Social Care students about the biology of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the related facts about contracting, passing on, and suffering from HIV and AIDS. Ian himself was diagnosed with HIV 13 years ago, and his personal story that he relayed to the students acted as a very real example of the truth of the matter rather than rumours and hearsay.

The Terrence Higgins Trust was established in 1982 after Mr Higgins became one of the first known people in the UK to die of the AIDS virus, although that was only know the following year. The charity is the country’s leading organisation in campaigning to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS and promote good sexual health and awareness.

“I’ve heard so many ridiculous things about HIV: that you can catch it from door handles or shaking hands with a person that has it; that you can only contract it from certain sexual positions; that you’re never going to be able to have sex again. These things are just made up and if people don’t know the truth for themselves, they can often believe them,” said Ian.

“It’s not in saliva, sweat, music, urine, faeces, vomit; It’s in the blood and can be transmitted via that, or through unprotected sex. Having that knowledge can change perceptions in a huge way. We hope that the students can take away a bit more understanding about HIV and look after their own sexual health and take responsibility for their own bodies.”

Ian described how he still lives with the stigma of HIV, and telling his parents was a particularly tough time, although their understanding has come a long way since he told them eight years ago. He honestly told the students that he contracted the virus from having unprotected sex, and he, like many, thought ‘it would never happen to me’. The protection of a condom can prevent communicating HIV, and is something that every person should take responsibility for, he said.

Ian, along with Emma, explained that the treatment for HIV has come so far that it is now a manageable health issue for many sufferers, who can take one pill per day and live normal lives with a lifespan the same as non-sufferers. His own body is one of 1-2% of sufferers that manage the virus incredibly well, meaning that Ian has had no need for medical treatment as yet.

To learn more about the facts of HIV and AIDS for yourself, visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website by clicking here

Posted by The BSFC Blogger on 1 December 2016

Category: College Life




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