In the commemoration of its 25th birthday at the University of Edinburgh this weekend, HIV Scotland claimed that their plan is to “reach zero infections by 2030”.
Speakers talked through the need to eradicate the HIV stigma, as well as all the aspects that have been already achieved to guarantee the quality of life of patients in Scotland.
Panti Bliss, who is well known in the British gay community for being a performer and a pub landlady, spoke about the impact that having HIV had had on her career.
Last night was our first ever #PositiveChange Gala Dinner & Auction, hosted by the wonderful @PantiBliss, with brilliant addresses by our Chair, Dr @nicopolicek, and our Chief Executive, @nathansparkling. pic.twitter.com/bHD170bVFP
— HIV Scotland (@HIVScotland) December 1, 2019
Referring to Panti’s speech, James Stuart, member of the Scottish casting agency ECM, published on his twitter account that the drag queen was “wise, funny, and inspiring”.
James Stuart said: “It’s no longer the HIV virus which kills us (in Europe) but stigma.”
Chief Executive of HIV Scotland, Nathan Sparking, in conversations with our reporters, said: “Someone living with HIV in Scotland today is like everyone else. We have full and free access to HIV treatment regardless of where you are from; we can be a refugee or an immigrant and still get it.”
He added: “That is down to the fact that we understand and believe that there is a public health benefit of everyone being on treatment because, if you receive effective treatment, you can’t pass on the virus.”
The “Zero HIV” campaign, launched in May 2018 by HIV Scotland, is a programme that intends to strengthen people’s health education by providing information about available treatments and sexual health tests.
Efforts are necessary to combat the transmission outbreak that has been evidenced in cities such as Glasgow, which is also related to injected drugs, .
It is estimated that the campaign will benefit 1.2 million people by June 2020 if the programme’s schedule is carried out properly.
One of the treatments that is being advertised widely in Scotland is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PreP), a pill that helps reduce HIV risk up to 99% when taken correctly.
Since PreP is currently distributed by NHS Scotland with no extra charges, the numbers of new HIV infections have consistently dropped.
However, people who are on such a treatment are likely to commit riskier sexual acts, and that has raised the appearance of other sexual transmitted diseases.
In line with Sparling’s thoughts, PreP patients have less chances of being unknowingly ill as they are medically checked every three months.
“As you are picking up STIs, you diagnose them and then treat them, so you are breaking the circle of passing on diseases.” Sparling said.
Sparling added that, in the long-term, having frequent medical sexual checks will be a positive step for health and safety.