Around 40 per cent of Lewisham residents with HIV are diagnosed late, according to NHS Lewisham’s HIV Health Improvement programme.
The news comes on the eve of World Aids Day on December 1, with Lewisham council looking to improve AIDS awareness among local residents by encouraging people to make a pledge to ‘Act Aware’.
To mark World Aids Day, the council is encouraging people to wear red ribbons for support and talk to younger residents about sexual health precautions.
Chris Baguma, manager at the local HIV Health Improvement programme said: “If HIV infection is detected early, then treatment can keep people well and dramatically reduce the chances of them passing the infection on to others. People with HIV can have a normal life expectancy if they are diagnosed early and treated.”
The council and NHS South East London are also spreading awareness through a public consultation and by offering HIV tests at health clinics and at the GP walk-in centre in New Cross. The consultation will take place on January 10 at Lewisham Town Hall.
The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said: “I think it’s very important for everyone to be aware about the risks of exposure to HIV but also to know the difference between fact and fiction. We’ve come a long way in our understanding but many of the old myths still exist.”
“The important thing is to be aware of the facts and take a test if you think you’ve placed yourself at risk of infection.”