Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, took an instant HIV test today, the first government leader in the UK to do so.
Ahead of World AIDS Day on 1st December and supported by George Valiotis, CEO of HIV Scotland, Ms Sturgeon told ITV News, “It was very simple and the whole reason for doing it is to encourage people not to be nervous and to come forward and do it.”
Taking just minutes to complete it showed how easy it is to take a test and that results come through instantly. Testing on the NHS is free in Scotland.
More than 5000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with HIV and around 1000 more people are unaware that they have the virus, which is why regular testing is so important.
Stigma remains the key issue for people living with HIV in Scotland and is one of the biggest barriers to testing. It undermines prevention efforts and can stop people from accessing treatment and support.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Despite the progress made in recent years, HIV is still a significant public health challenge for Scotland.”
“We can all play our part in making life better for those living with HIV. It is important that we continue to work together to eradicate the stigma around the virus and tackle the false myths and prejudices that still surround it.”
“Especially on World AIDS Day, and in the months and years to come, I invite you to join me and help raise awareness around HIV. By doing so, we will be paying a fitting tribute to those who have lost their lives and – most importantly – we can contribute to reducing the risk of new infections.”
George Valiotis, CEO of HIV Scotland said:
“The First Minister today has demonstrated that taking a HIV test is easy.”
“It’s important to remember that a positive result no longer means a death sentence; living with HIV is now just like any other long-term health condition. Amazing advances in treatment means that people can live a long and healthy life and not pass it on. HIV-related stigma remains a key issue for people living with HIV and Scotland’s new anti-stigma strategy provides the foundations for tackling stigma and reaching zero new infections.”
Charities, activists and HIV survivors came together in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday evening (28th November) to launch Scotland’s new anti-stigma strategy. The event featured moving and emotional stories from some of those people living with HIV in Scotland today.
You can find out more about Scotland HIV Anti-Stigma Strategy: Roadmap to Zero here.
Pic credit: Nathan Sparling, HIV Scotland