LOCALS’ heads were turned around town last week when a red, double-decker party bus, packed full of volunteers took to the streets in a bid to get locals talking about HIV and Aids.
With HIV on the rise in the region and one in three of those infected unaware they are carrying the virus, volunteers from Solihull Hospital and local sexual health teams spent the day handing out symbolic red ribbons, free condoms and spreading the word about safer sex and the benefits of regular sexual health checks.
Organised to mark World Aids Day, the red party bus toured around Solihull and the surrounding areas visiting shopping centres and colleges, with the grand finale held at Centenary Square in Birmingham.
Dr Steve Taylor, lead HIV consultant at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and one of the World Aids Day event organisers, said: “The day has been about the region’s sexual health teams coming together to change the public’s perceptions of HIV – we want to emphasise that, if diagnosed early, you can manage the virus and still lead a long and healthy life.
“However, the contrary is also true that if a person is diagnosed late the drugs work less well and the risk of dying of an HIV/AIDS-related illness is significantly higher.
“It is for this reason that we are really keen to promote the HIV testing within in the general population.
We want to normalise HIV testing so that is considered as just another blood test.
“We now have so much to offer people who are diagnosed early.
For more information you can visit www.sexualhealthbirming treatment.