On Saturday 1 December, events will take place around the world to mark the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.
Big anniversaries offer the opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and, in the case of HIV, that progress is significant.
Today in Scotland, HIV is considered a manageable long-term health condition. People can now live long healthy lives thanks to effective treatments that can reduce the levels of the virus in the body to undetectable levels.
However, despite improved medical understanding, the condition continues to affect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, often driven by stigma.
This year, on World AIDS Day, we are helping to promote a message that challenges this stigma, and underlines the effectiveness of current HIV treatments – it’s called Undetectable=Untransmittable, or U=U for short.
U=U is a simple message –a person who is living with HIV and on treatment, who maintains an undetectable viral load, cannot pass on HIV through sex.
The U=U message has been endorsed by campaigners, charities and clinicians around the world, including the British HIV Association, and is a powerful challenge to the stigma often associated with HIV.
It highlights not only that HIV treatment can help people to live healthy lives, but also that by knowing their status and accessing treatment, people living with HIV can play a key role in stopping the spread of the condition.
The first step to U=U is knowing your HIV status and there are now more testing options than ever before, from sexual health clinics and GPs to community services and home tests.
The science behind U=U is clear, and the challenge now is to ensure that the message reaches beyond specialists in the field.
To coincide with World AIDS Day, Waverley Care has worked with health boards across Scotland to produce clear information explaining what U=U is and what it can mean in the fight against HIV.
On World AIDS Day, I’d like to encourage people across Scotland to help us share the U=U message to challenge stigma and reduce the spread of HIV in Scotland.
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