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McGuinness supports World Aids Day 2013

The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA, visited the office of Positive Life, in Belfast to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December.

World AIDS Day is held each year to raise awareness of AIDS and HIV. The red ribbon is the international symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV.

Speaking after the visit the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “Early diagnosis of HIV infection is important, as early treatment improves prognosis. World AIDS Day offers us all an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding and address the misconceptions and stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. 

“There is a relatively low prevalence of HIV in the north of Ireland, however, the number of new diagnoses is increasing year on year with the number increasing from 82 in 2011 to 95 in 2012.” 

Positive Life offers a telephone helpline service offering confidential information and advice on HIV and sexual health. They also provide a range of education and prevention programmes with group support services and individual counselling.

The deputy First Minister said: “I commend Positive Life for supporting and promoting positive living for people with and affected by HIV. Unfortunately some people living with HIV continue to suffer discrimination or stigma, often causing social exclusion which is unacceptable. This can result in them not availing of HIV treatment, prevention, care and support.

“Many people need to take immediate action to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection. HIV is preventable and by being informed about how it is transmitted and how to protect yourself and others, can prevent the spread of HIV.” 

Positive Life Director, Danny McQuillan said: “We are delighted that the deputy First Minister has taken time out of his busy schedule to publicly support people affected by HIV in Northern Ireland and the work of Positive Life”.

“Politicians have a key role in leading the way in raising awareness about HIV and in the fight against stigma; only by working together will we ‘Get to Zero’ diagnosis – this year’s World Aids Day theme.”

The Positive Life Confidential Helpline number is: 0800 137 437

Further information on HIV and AIDS, including how to protect yourself, can be found on the nidirect website:  http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/about-hiv-and-aids

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