Pledge made to cut AIDS deaths

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More than 200 people are receiving treatment for HIV in Wigan despite the borough being classed as a “low prevalence” area.

Latest Government figures - from 2015 - say the 213 patients equates to 1.13 in every 1,000 borough residents.

But despite the low rates, the data has shown a considerable rise in those dying of AIDS in the north of England over a 15-year period, with 120 succumbing to the illness in 2015 compared to 54 in 2000.

Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health for Wigan Council, said: “If you test positive for HIV you can still enjoy a long, healthy life if you test early and start the right treatment in time.

“We’re committed to ensuring people living with HIV have access to the right services and treatment with easy, accessible, stigma-free testing of HIV.

“We are backing the Greater Manchester’s Positive campaign to encourage people to get tested early and get the right support and advice.

“Wigan is regarded as a low prevalence area for HIV but by raising awareness about it and the steps people can take to avoid infection we can further reduce HIV levels.”

Wigan comes 14th in the region and with a much lower rate of the disease than other areas such as Salford at 4.95 per 1,000 people or Manchester with 5.81.

In the year leading up to the report, between 2014 and 2015, more than 15,000 people visited sexual health services in the borough, the majority of which came from Wigan with others travelling from areas across the north west such as Bolton, Salford and St Helens.

Prof Ardern added: “We have recently been consulting on the borough’s sexual health services to find out how people use services or what could be done to encourage more people to engage with services. This will help to shape how a future sexual health service will look based on what people value and how we can make it easier to get support.

“The new service will look to offer better support with more ways to get help by teaming up with other services already available in communities.”