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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

New Children’s Book based on local fisherman

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CHILDREN’S AUTHOR Natalie L Davies has written a story based on local man, Mickey Beechey, of Llangrannog.

The book is available on Amazon.

Natalie said: “I’ve written a series of children’s books with the central character, the lovely ‘Mickey the Fisherman’. The first book is called ‘Pollution’, and is a bright colourful and fun book with a valuable message.”

The book is available to buy on Amazon in both paperback and kindle, and can be found at: mybook.to/mickeythefisherman.

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Community

Council supports the Learning Disabilities ‘My Charter’

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CABINET members and senior officers in Ceredigion have signed ‘My Charter’. In doing so, Ceredigion County Council have become the first council to sign up to the charter. My Charter was written by people who have learning disabilities in West Wales.

The charter says that people who have learning disabilities want to have more chances in life, more choice and to be listened to. It also says that people who have learning disabilities want to be treated as adults, to be given dignity and respect and that their information is kept private.

Councillor Alun Williams is the Cabinet member responsible for Adult Services. He said: “People with learning disabilities have the same aspirations, hopes and feelings as everyone else. They deserve the same services and to be treated equally in a way that’s appropriate to their needs. I’m delighted that Ceredigion has become the first council to sign the charter, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this can positively influence the way our population of people with learning disabilities are treated in the future.”

The charter was developed by people who have learning disabilities from across Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

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Community

Ceredigion Leisure Centres Summer holiday programme

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A BUSY TIMETABLE of inclusive summer holiday activities for children has been organised across all Ceredigion County Council-run leisure centres in the county.

From football to bouncy castle sessions, from cycling skills to archery, there’s a wide variety of activities to choose from over the course of the summer.

There will also be day camps and multi-skills activity days available at some of the leisure centres, for children to attend for the whole day. There’s even a day trip to the beach with Teifi Leisure Centre!

A range of learning to swim programmes are available at Lampeter Swimming Pool and Plascrug Leisure Centre across the summer holidays. A week of swimming lessons will be delivered solely through the medium of Welsh in Plascrug Leisure Centre starting on 5 August.

Councillor Catrin Miles is the council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure Services. She said: “Ceredigion Actif is once again providing a busy timetable of fun activities during the summer. It’s a healthy and worthwhile way for children to spend their time during the summer.”

Booking for sessions is essential and staff at leisure centres reserve the right to cancel any session if attendance is too low.

For further information on the summer holiday activities planned, visit the Ceredigion Actif website.

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