Nicola Sturgeon takes HIV test in bid to tackle stigma

The First Minister became the first UK government leader to take the test in public.

Nicola Sturgeon has taken an instant HIV test as part of efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding the virus.

The First Minister became the first UK government leader to take such a test in public, in a bid to encourage more people to find out their HIV status.

More than 5000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with the virus, but campaigners at HIV Scotland estimate that about 1000 people could have the condition without knowing.

Ms Sturgeon, who took the instant result HIV self test ahead of World Aids Day on December 1, said despite progress in recent years HIV was "still a significant public health challenge for Scotland".

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She stated: "We can all play our part in making life better for those living with HIV.

"It is important that we continue to work together to eradicate the stigma around the virus and tackle the false myths and prejudices that still surround it.

"Especially on World Aids Day, and in the months and years to come, I invite you to join me and help raise awareness around HIV.

"By doing so, we will be paying a fitting tribute to those who have lost their lives and - most importantly - we can contribute to reducing the risk of new infections."

George Valiotis, the CEO of HIV Scotland praised the First Minister for having "demonstrated that taking a HIV test is easy".

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He said: "It's important to remember that a positive result no longer means a death sentence, living with HIV is now just like any other long-term health condition.

"Amazing advances in treatment means that people can live a long and healthy life and not pass it on.

"HIV-related stigma remains a key issue for people living with HIV and Scotland's new anti-stigma strategy provides the foundations for tackling stigma and reaching zero new infections."

Test: Nicola Sturgeon with HIV Scotland's George Valiotis. PA Images
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