On Friday 1 December, Somerset Council’s Public Health Team will be encouraging people across Somerset to ‘Claim their status’ by having an HIV test.

World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year. It is a day of solidarity for people around the world who are affected by HIV.

Somerset has low numbers of people living with HIV.  However, there remains concern for people who are diagnosed late and have poorer health outcomes.  Early diagnosis and treatment is important for better long-term health outcomes.

The numbers for late diagnosis are higher in Somerset than in other areas in England, particularly amongst heterosexuals over 50.

Public Health in Somerset continue to work together with The Eddystone Trust and the Somerset Wide Integrated Sexual Health Service (SWISH) to provide a joined-up approach to support residents who are living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV.
This work has, for many years helped progress the HIV response.

Councillor Adam Dance, Lead Executive Member for Public Health, Equality and Diversity at Somerset Council said: 

There is still stigma and shame associated with HIV, and most of it is based on outdated and incorrect information. Modern treatments are really effective and where HIV is diagnosed early you can live a normal life on effective treatment

It is extremely important to be tested and I would encourage people to use this World Aids Day to get an HIV test and know your HIV status.

By doing so, you ensure your sexual health is reviewed like you would do with other areas of your health, and if a positive result were detected you will improve your long-term health by starting highly effective treatment.

Remember to wear you red ribbon too, it’s a great way to raise awareness and show your support to anyone affected by HIV.

James Mead, Service Development Lead (Prevention) for The Eddystone Trust, added:

We continue to work on letting individuals and communities know about the advances in HIV treatment and work to ensure that HIV testing is accessible to as many people as possible.

We work with people and communities to explain that living with HIV and being on effective treatment means that you cannot pass HIV to another sexual partner as those with an undetectable viral load mean it is un-transmittable (U=U).

Another advancement in the fight against HIV is a drug called PrEP which can prevent you becoming HIV positive. For more information on this, or to order your free HIV test, which can be done in the comfort of your own home, visit: www.swishservices.co.uk or www.eddystone.org.uk.

Information on the national World AIDS day campaign can be found at Home – World AIDS Day.

World Aids Day red ribbon logo

About this article

December 5, 2023

Debbie Rundle

Press Release

Public Health