Helping women in Oxfordshire to stay HIV aware this World AIDS Day

Women from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse (BAED) communities across Oxfordshire are being alerted to the risks of HIV transmission with a series of videos produced by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford Against Cutting to mark World AIDS Day on 1 December.

More than 105,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Nearly three quarters of all women diagnosed with HIV in the UK are from BAED communities.

The videos have been produced in different languages to help raise awareness of HIV across different communities and specifically to target women that may have otherwise struggled to get the information and support they need.

Dr Shakiba Habibula, Oxfordshire County Council Consultant in Public Health, said: “HIV affects all communities, and like all women, some members of BAED communities may be reluctant to talk about HIV because of the stigma they feel. It is important that all women know that there is no shame in having the virus and the support is there for them if they are concerned that they may have it.

“The sooner that somebody is diagnosed and begins treatment the better. With medication, it is possible for individuals to live long lives and start a family without the risk of passing the virus on.

“Always remember that using a condom is still one of the most effective ways of not contracting HIV or any sexually transmitted disease.”

Sobia Afridi, Anti-HBA Facilitator at Oxford Against Cutting said: "Our team is pleased to help raise awareness of HIV on World AIDS Day as this illness affects all communities including BAED communities. It is important that families can understand sexual health information in their mother tongue and that we support family and friends to speak up".

The annual World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

People with HIV in the still face ignorance and discrimination which prevents them unnecessarily, living full and happy lives. Often those with HIV are more likely to have low incomes and are also more likely to suffer from poor mental health.

Although the number of people being diagnosed with HIV in the UK is slowing, nearly half of people who test positive are finding out they have HIV very late, meaning the virus may have damaged their health permanently.

More information

  • The most recent estimate suggests there were 105,200 people living with HIV in the UK in 2019. Of these, around 6,600 are undiagnosed so do not know they are HIV positive (source)
  • Early diagnosis usually results in normal life expectancy, while a late diagnosis leads to a tenfold increase of death within one year.
  • Those who are undiagnosed spend an average of three to five years unaware they have the virus.(source)
  • Videos are available in Urdu, Punjabi and Arabic.
  • Oxford Against Cutting is a rights-based group working to end harmful cultural practices suffered by girls and women living in the Thames Valley. These include:
    • Female genital mutilation (FGM)
    • Honour-based abuse (HBA) and early and forced marriage (EFM)
    • Female cosmetic genital surgery
  • Their mission is to end cultural practices that harm girls and women by:
    • Providing education
    • Supporting survivors
    • Raising awareness of support services
    • Empowering young people to champion initiatives against harmful practices
  •  For more information see the Oxford Against Cutting website.