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Support for those at risk from HIV

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hiv-curtHYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD’S Blood-borne Virus (BBV) Nursing Service is marking World AIDS Day on Monday December 1. Marked on the same date every year since 1988, World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the HIV epidemic around the world and many people recognise the red ribbon and wear it to show their support for people living with HIV. Currently there are almost 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV and over 35 million people worldwide.

This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to Zero’ meaning the aim is to get to zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths. Janice Rees, Lead Blood-borne Virus Specialist Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board has been caring for patients in the area with HIV and other blood-borne viruses since 1995. Janice said: “I have seen huge changes in the field of HIV since I first came into post.

Initially we had no treatments and being told you were HIV positive was like being given a death sentence. My role involved caring for people, very often young people, at the end of their life. With the advent of treatments, people diagnosed with HIV can now live a perfectly normal life, even having their own children safely and with minimal risk of transmission, which 20 years ago was something I never dreamt I would see.”

HIV is transmitted in the following ways: By having unprotected sex with someone who is infected, so always use a condom. They can be obtained free from sexual health clinics and the Blood-borne Virus nurses By getting infected blood into your blood stream. This may be through sharing any injecting equipment; sharing snorting equipment; having tattoos or piercings done in unhygienic conditions or by infected blood getting into open wounds. NEVER share any injecting equipment including filters, spoons, water.

Needle exchange is available throughout the counties and pharmacies taking part can be identified by the yellow and green arrow on their door. When having piercings and tattoos make sure that sterile equipment is opened in front of you and in the case of tattoos make sure a sterile ink pot is used and not a ‘communal’ inkpot. If in doubt – don’t have it done! Mothers can transmit the virus to the babies – but with treatments now available, this can be prevented.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV. Ms Rees continued: “When I give someone a positive HIV diagnosis, I can reassure them that medically they will be fine, live a normal life and be well. However, the hardest part for someone newly diagnosed is how other people react. Most of the people living with HIV in the Hywel Dda catchment area have fantastic support from partners, parents, family and close friends.

However, most are petrified of neighbours and others finding out their status and reacting badly, not just towards them but their loved ones as well. Sadly a small number have been ostracised in their community and in a couple of cases felt forced to move away.” The zero discrimination message seeks to stamp out this discrimination. The Equality Act offers legal protection in areas such as employment, housing and education but sadly does not offer protection against social discrimination. If anyone thinks they may have been at risk of contracting HIV, tests (including a full sexual health check up) can be undertaken at your local sexual health clinic – for Hywel Dda call 01267 248674 between 9.30 and 4.30 Monday to Friday.

The Blood-borne Virus Nursing service also offer free confidential testing, call Janice Rees on 01437 773125 / 07899915835 for Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion or Nicola Reeve for Carmarthenshire on 01554 783 535 / 07977 486665. The nurses can also be contacted if you want any advice or have any questions about HIV. They are also able to give educational talks to any agencies, community groups, care homes etc who would like to know more about HIV and the other bloodborne viruses.

Ms Rees concluded: “One of my patients recently said to me that she longs for the day when disclosing her HIV status would be like disclosing she had diabetes, where people would be more sympathetic rather than fearful of her. I really hope that this World AIDS day everyone will think carefully and help us to stamp out discrimination.”

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Community

The Little Mill Players present Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood by Ben Crocker

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Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is this year’s Little Mill Players Pantomime. Performances will be at Theatr Felinfach from Thursday 30 January to Saturday 01 February at 7:30pm. There will also be a matinée performance on Saturday 01 February at 2:30pm.

Robin Hood may be the best archer in the land, but can he escape the clutches of the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and save the Babes? Come along and join Winnie Widebottom, Marion, Little Joan, Friar Tuck and the Outlaws (and also, surprisingly, the Smugglers Cove WI who have come to Sherwood Forest on a camping holiday and get caught up in the adventure). Boo, hiss and cheer to help make sure the Sheriff gets his just deserts. Expect much fun, laughter and song in this family friendly production.

The Little Mill Players have existed as long as Theatr Felinfach has been in existence, since 1972. Members of the company come from various parts of Ceredigion and even Carmarthenshire. The age range of the cast varies from 7 to 60+ and their jobs vary from manual to managerial as well as school pupils and students. This year they are again thrilled to have several new faces and hope this trend will continue.

The show’s director, Stephen Entwistle, has been a member of the group for over 16 years. He began life with the group as the Musical Director, then progressed onto the stage and is now the ‘boss’!

One of the longest serving members of the current cast is Dilys Megicks, the show’s production assistant, who has been a member for some 24 years. During that time she has portrayed a wide array of characters including a baddy, a chicken and is currently Chair of the Smuggler’s Cove WI! She enjoys all aspects of the traditional pantomime.

Another, now established, member of the cast is Andrew Tyrrell who, over the years, has truly made the role of panto ‘Dame’ his own. He most certainly is the comedian of the cast. Andrew also takes charge of prop building and supplies.

Remember to follow Theatr Felinfach’s Facebook page for opportunities to win tickets to the production. Tickets are available from Theatr Felinfach’s Box Office on 01570 470697 or online at theatrfelinfach.cymru. Ticket prices are £9 for adults, £8 for Senior Citizens and £6 for children.

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NHS volunteers needed

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Volunteering for the NHS can be incredibly rewarding and Hywel Dda UHB are looking for new people to join their Volunteering for Health service in Ceredigion.

There are many reasons why you may consider volunteering with Hywel Dda UHB. It is a great way to experience what it is like in a hospital environment if you are thinking about a career in health. It can also help you to give something back if you’ve been a patient yourself or had a relative in hospital.

There are many different volunteer roles available such as patient befrienders on our wards and welcome volunteers at hospital receptions, and we are particularly looking for people who would be able to help with the shop trolley and help as patient befrienders on our wards at Bronglais Hospital.

Volunteer information sessions will be held in February and anyone who may be interested in becoming a volunteer can find out more by contacting the Volunteering for Health team on 01267 244401 or HDd.VolunteerForHealth@wales.nhs.uk.

David Fretwell, Volunteer Manager at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “One of the greatest benefits volunteers can bring to the NHS is the support and comfort you bring to our patients. We particularly want to establish a shop trolley at Bronglais Hospital but we encourage anyone local to Ceredigion who wants to volunteer for their NHS to get in touch.”

To find out more about Hywel Dda UHB’s Volunteering for Health Service please visit www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/volunteering

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Elin Jones backs calls for Epilepsy Nurse working in Ceredigion

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ELIN JONES has joined people living with epilepsy and those who support them to discuss issues relating to the healthcare and wellbeing of epilepsy sufferers in the Aberystwyth area, and has reiterated their call for a specific Epilepsy Nurse in the local Health Board.

Epilepsy Aberystwyth District Support Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, in Tesco’s Community Space in Aberystwyth from 11.00am until 1.00pm.

Following the meeting, Elin Jones said:

“It is important that epilepsy sufferers have appropriate local healthcare support.

“Many epilepsy sufferers are prohibited from driving, and therefore face additional barriers to accessing health and social support.

“There is currently no specialist epilepsy nurse in the Hywel Dda Health Board and I will be raising with the need to appoint such a necessary role with the Chief Executive.

“Meetings such as this with local action groups provide me with valuable insight into the variety of challenges faced by people with specific conditions in Ceredigion and it allows me to represent them more effectively with relevant authorities.”

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