Tomorrow (Friday 1 December, 2023) is World AIDS Day – with people urged to find out about the condition and testing services in Wolverhampton.

World AIDS Day brings together people around the world to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, and progress in prevention, treatment and care.

HIV – or human immunodeficiency virus – is a virus that attacks the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to respond to infections. Anyone can get HIV, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and, as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it can be passed on through unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing, said: “World AIDS Day is an opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have lost their lives, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

“Getting tested is the only way to find out if you have HIV. If you are living with HIV, starting treatment early means you can live a full, healthy and productive life.

“Not everyone with HIV has symptoms. Some people may have a flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after infection and then no further symptoms for several years.

“It’s therefore vital that you get tested as soon as possible if you think you might be at risk of HIV. The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.”

She added: “Wolverhampton continues to be above the national average for HIV testing rates, and the diagnosis rate has reduced significantly to 3.4 per 100,000 last year. Late diagnosis is also low, meaning people are getting tested earlier and reducing the risk of complications, but we mustn’t be complacent and that’s why we’re continuing to encourage people to test and to use condoms to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.”

In Wolverhampton, free and confidential HIV tests are available from the Embrace Wolverhampton Sexual Health Service clinics, GP surgeries, pharmacies or online for self-testing at home. For more information, please visit Embrace

People who feel they are at risk of HIV should call Embrace in confidence on 01902 444444 for help and support.

PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) is an effective way to protect against HIV, and this week is also PrEP Awareness Week. For more information, please visit HIV services