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Membership Matters

Take the test for AIDS

To mark World AIDS Day (1 December) Margaret Sentamu, wife of the Archbishop of York, joined staff from York’s sexual health services and charity Yorkshire MESMAC to highlight the importance of taking a HIV test.  Demonstrating how simple a HIV test can be Margaret took a finger prick test where the result is given within 20 minutes.

Speaking about World AIDS Day, Margaret said: “It’s important to raise awareness not just for one day, but all year round of the importance of getting tested.  There have been fantastic advances in medication which means people can now live a completely normal life, particularly when they get an early diagnosis.

“Understandably people may be nervous about taking a test but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Late diagnosis can be devastating, so be brave and go forward - do not fear the test.”

Latest figures reveal that late diagnosis of HIV means that people in York and North Yorkshire can spend an average of three to five years living with HIV before they are diagnosed.  Dr Ian Fairley, Clinical Director for Sexual Health Services, explained: “There are over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK and around a quarter of them don’t know they’re HIV positive.

“Effective HIV therapy not only keeps the individual well but it also prevents them from passing the virus onto others.

“If someone with HIV is diagnosed early and is able to access treatment then their life expectancy is as good as if they were HIV negative.”

YorSexualHealth runs 27 clinics each week across the whole of York and North Yorkshire.  Find out more about HIV and how to get tested, including a free confidential postal testing kit, by visiting the sexually transmitted infections page on their website, www.yorsexualhealth.org.uk

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We are asking visitors to help us protect patients from highly contagious winter infections by not visiting friends and relatives in hospital when you have been unwell or in close contact with someone with flu or norovirus.

We are experiencing a high level of norovirus and flu in our hospitals, which has resulted in the closure of wards and bays in order to stop the spread.  Closing wards can help to contain the viruses but visitors can play a huge part and we would ask you to think carefully before paying any non-essential visits at this time.

While viruses are active year-round, winter is a prime time for norovirus, colds and influenza, commonly known as flu.  These infections are highly contagious, so when they are brought into a hospital environment they can easily spread to staff and vulnerable hospital patients.

Norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK.  It's also called the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because it's more common in winter, although you can catch it at any time of the year.  Norovirus can be very unpleasant but it usually clears up by itself in a few days.

Flu is a common infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes.  It is a major killer of vulnerable people.  People aged 65 and over and people with long-term health conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, are particularly at risk.  If you have flu, please stay away until you are better.  The virus is highly infectious and outbreaks can happen quickly.

Please stay away if you have signs or symptoms of either virus, and do not visit until you have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours.  If symptoms persist (more than 48 hours), the advice is to phone your GP or NHS 111.