World AIDS Day Reminds us All About the Importance of Good Sexual Health
22nd November 2016
World AIDS DayIn a little over a week’s time will see World AIDS Day take place, which is held on 1 December each year courtesy of the National Aids Trust (NAT) charity and is proudly supported by Medical Specialists® Pharmacy. The day is vital in order to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. Medical Specialists® have provided sexual health treatments for a number of years and we believe the annual awareness day presents a fantastic opportunity to boost knowledge about one of the most destructive pandemics in modern day history. In total, 35 million people have died due to HIV or AIDS since the HIV virus was properly identified in 1984. World AIDS Day was actually the first ever global health awareness day – the first one taking place back in 1988 – and the day also marks a way to commemorate those that have died from the disease and show support for people still living with HIV. There are an estimated 100,000 people in the UK currently living with HIV and worldwide a staggering 34 million are believed to have the virus, but an estimated 18,000 people of those 100,000 with HIV in the UK are unaware that they are living with the virus. Since the 1980s when the virus was formally identified, there has been a disappointing stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS, leading to thousands of potential sufferers even reluctant to come forward and seek testing. During its 1980s peak and the time when HIV was considered a certain death sentence, Queen Frontman Freddie Mercury was rumoured to have been both tested for HIV on multiple occasions and actually have the virus itself. He vehemently and angrily denied both to paparazzi, wanting to keep his private life private and no doubt acutely aware of the stigma that was attached to anybody confirmed as being HIV-positive. Tragically, his already advanced onset of AIDS was confirmed on 23 November 1991 by a statement released on Mercury’s behalf, and the rock icon died just a day later. If Mercury had contracted HIV only a few years after when he did then maybe he would still be alive today, especially as treatments advanced and multiple-drug therapy came into force. An earlier diagnosis of HIV is crucial though; a person diagnosed at a late stage of the disease is actually 9 times more likely to die within 12 months of receiving their diagnosis compared to somebody who gets tested and diagnosed at an early stage. At this point you may be wondering exactly what is HIV? HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the immune system; our body’s natural defence mechanism against infections and disease. Health Protection Agency statistics from 2011 showed 95% of UK diagnoses stemmed from sexual contact, according to NHS Choices – failure to use a condom during sexual intercourse being the primary factor. Those who share infected needles, syringes or other drug paraphernalia are also at a high risk. After infection, symptoms can take between 2 to 6 weeks to show, which can include many of the common flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat, tiredness, muscular pain and a body rash may also develop. Those that believe they might be at risk should not delay in being tested. Click here to find out your HIV risk, where you can get tested and how you can protect yourself from developing the virus. If HIV is left untreated or insufficiently managed, HIV can then progress into the more fatal AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). At this stage, the body is now unable to fend-off life-threatening infections due to its severely damaged immune system. HIV is just one of many prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Medical Specialists® Pharmacy can provide STD treatment for many of the more common STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital herpes. In addition, Medical Specialists® can provide near 100% accurate pregnancy tests to be used in the privacy and comfort of the person’s own home, a wide variety of condoms to suit different preferences, emergency hormonal contraception (morning after pill), other contraceptive pills, and even a chlamydia test that can be used at home and posted off for a quick analysis and result, saving the time and embarrassment of having to personally attend a clinic for a check-up. Please note that for every prescription medication provided by Medical Specialists®, all patients must first undergo an online consultation with one of the GMC-registered doctors at Medical Specialists®, or send in a private prescription by post, obtained by the patient’s own doctor.