Club join forces with Saving Lives charity ahead of World AIDS Day
IT’S National HIV Testing Week - and Albion are helping to spread a message that could literally save lives.
Baggies trio Chris Brunt, Ben Foster and Youssouf Mulumbu have joined forces with a nationwide campaign and local NHS Trust to raise HIV awareness and encourage people to get tested.
The players are featuring in posters, videos and a brand new educational booklet for the national HIV awareness charity, Saving Lives.
Saving Lives has simple aims - to encourage people to look after their sexual health, get tested and educate themselves about HIV and the many myths and stigma that surround this infection.
One in five of all those living with HIV in the UK today do not know they are infected. That’s over 20,000 people.
It means doctors can't give them life-saving treatment. They may also unknowingly be passing on the infection to their partners.
Albion skipper Chris said: “I’m pleased that the Club is helping to promote National HIV Testing Week as it will hopefully save lives.
"The HIV test is just a simple blood test. You can ask for it at your local GP, hospital or any sexual health clinic. It doesn't hurt and whatever the result you'll be advised what to do next.”
Dr Steve Taylor is an HIV expert at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Medical Director of the charity. He said: “The treatment for HIV has improved massively over the last ten years, meaning that getting tested isn't anything to be afraid of. It's the not knowing that is killing people today.
“Taking an HIV test is the only way to know if you've got HIV. Anyone who has had unprotected sex with another person, who themselves have not been tested, is at risk. It’s as simple as that.
“Not many people are aware that a person can be infected for over ten years without knowing it. Just consider the number of people they could have passed the infection onto in that time.
"Knowing you’re negative is reassuring and means you can then really start to look after your sexual health. Likewise, getting a positive result means you can get yourself onto lifesaving treatment. It's a no brainer, really."
Baggies keeper Ben commented: “For me, it’s all about education - and giving young people the information they need to look after themselves.
“That's why National HIV Testing Week and Saving Lives is so important - it educates people about HIV.”
Midfielder Youssouf added: "You don't have to be a certain type of person to catch HIV. That's why it's safest to take the test."
Chris, Ben and Youssouf joined HIV Clinical Nurse Specialists Rebecca Chell and Sally Gaunt, pictured below, from the Walsall Centre For Sexual Health, based at Manor Hospital, at a photoshoot to help promote National HIV Testing Week.
You can find the nearest clinic to you by clicking here - or just ask your GP - and download the booklet featuring Chris, Ben and Youssouf here.
You can learn more about HIV, why the players are getting involved with Saving Lives, and view photos and videos at the Saving Lives website. Players all over the country have signed up to the campaign.
There are around 96,000 people infected with the HIV virus living in the UK with approximately 5,115 of those living in the West Midlands region. Up to 25 per cent of these individuals do not know they are infected.
National HIV Testing Week, which is an annual event, is being co-ordinated through HIV Prevention England (HPE), a partnership of community organisations funded by NHS England to carry out national HIV prevention work in England among communities at an increased risk of infection.
It forms the centrepiece of HPE’s autumn campaign Think HIV, which aims to encourage people at high risk of HIV, particularly gay and bisexual men and Africans, to test more regularly for the virus.
The week will conclude with World AIDS Day this Sunday.