5th June 2011 marks 30 years of AIDS

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HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is marking the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS cases in the USA this Sunday, 5th June, with its Walk for Life event in aid of people living with HIV.

On the 5th June 1981 the first scientific report of a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia among five gay men at three different hospitals in Los Angeles was announced. The study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, marked the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, which has since led to over 30 million deaths around the world.

Whilst far fewer people now die from AIDS as a result of highly effective drug treatments, the number of new HIV infections continues to rise. Over the past 30 years, more than 115,000 people have tested HIV positive in the UK and 20,000 people have died. There are now over 90,000 people living with HIV in the UK, with around 23,000 of these people are unaware they have the infection as they have not had an HIV test recently. Having an HIV test is easy, quick, confidential and free.

Terrence Higgins Trust is holding the annual Walk for Life in London this Sunday, to raise vital funds for people living with HIV in severe poverty. The charity’s Chief Executive Sir Nick Partridge said: “In thirty years we have come a long way from the dark days of AIDS hysteria, illness and death. But, as high HIV statistics both globally and in the UK show, it’s vital we continue to deliver effective safer sex and condom promotion campaigns to slow its spread. We’re running Walk for Life this weekend to raise vital funds to support people living with HIV and ensure that no one has to face it alone or experience the fear, stigma and discrimination of 30 years ago. “

Walk for Life is the largest HIV and AIDS awareness event in Europe and will see hundreds of supporters take to the streets of London this Sunday for a 10k walk through historic London sites. The event has a Wizard of Oz theme this year and is supported by celebrities Beverley Knight, John Partridge and 4 Poofs & A Piano. For more information about how to take part in the event log on to www.walkforlife.co.uk or call 020 7812 1665.