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DVD educates on HIV

New campaign offers newly diagnosed sufferers advice and help

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Terrence Higgins Trusts have launched an educational DVD for people newly diagnosed with HIV. Positive Living, which will be distributed via clinics throughout the country and is available free from Terrence Higgins Trust, aims to answer the commonly asked questions posed by those who have been recently diagnosed with HIV.

The DVD, which comprises interviews with people from a cross-section of British society who have been living with HIV for between four and 22 years, shows how the prognosis and issues facing newly diagnosed sufferers have changed over the last two decades.

Two leading specialists in HIV, Professor Margaret Johnson and Dr Mervyn Tyrer, from the Royal Free Hospital, together with Lisa Power, head of policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, also give their perspective on medical and social issues associated with HIV.

All angles
Positive Living covers a range of topics from the psychological impact of a positive diagnosis to the practical implications associated with lifestyle and socioeconomic issues, such as employment, finance and the law.

Fabrice Chouraqui, head of speciality care at BMS, said: Education and awareness are instrumental in helping patients understand and manage their condition, therefore we believe strongly in developing resources, such as Positive Living, to help people with HIV to enhance their lives.

Will Nutland, head of health promotion at Terrence Higgins Trust, hopes that Positive Living will prove a valuable tool to people who have been newly diagnosed with HIV. Improved treatments mean that most people living with HIV in the UK can lead full and active lives, however, learning how to live with HIV remains a complex and difficult process, he added.

The DVD is broken down into the following sections: health; lifestyle; work, money and rights and resources.

Rise in HIV cases
The launch of Positive Living comes as new figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reveal that the number of new HIV infections in the EU has risen by almost 40 per cent in the past five years. In 2005, 23 countries in the EU reported 23,620 new cases of HIV, an increase of 39 per cent from 2000. Estonia and Portugal reported the highest rates at more than three times the European average.

The figures were released at a two-day conference (October 2-3) in Stockholm, where the ECDC also expressed concerns that almost a third of those with HIV do not know they have the disease.

Meanwhile, a Eurobarometer survey of 25,000 people in the EU, carried out for the European Commission, has revealed that Britain is below the European average when it comes to taking precautions against HIV/AIDS during sex.

The growing ignorance of Britons to sexual health was highlighted by survey researchers after results revealed that over 50 per cent of Britons polled did not use extra protection to avoid HIV and 22 per cent thought that AIDS could be contracted through kissing.

The findings have outraged health campaigners who have blamed the results on the government's failure to encourage public awareness and continued poor sex education.

According to the European Centre for the Epidemiological Monitoring of Aids, Britain has the fifth-highest level of HIV infection in Europe, with 126 cases per million of the population.

2nd September 2008

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