This November, HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is inviting people living with HIV, as well as those with a professional interest in the condition, to attend a free conference in Bristol. South West Think Positive, the first event of its kind in the region, will take place on Tuesday 30th November from 10.30am – 3.30pm. It is a joint initiative organised by Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, The Brigstowe Project, and THT.

In 2008, there were an estimated 3,440 people living with HIV in the South West, around a quarter of whom were unaware they were infected. The conference is an opportunity for people with HIV to provide feedback on health and support services, and raise any concerns they may have around their condition. It will also provide information on what rights they have in areas including equality, employment, and disclosure of their status.

Sessions at the conference include:

HIV, your GP, and the implications of changes to primary care
Over fifty and living with HIV
Stigma, discrimination, and knowing your rights
Attitudes, individuals, organisations, and communities
Children & younger people living with HIV
Louise Sweeney, Health Promotion Specialist for THT in Bristol, said: “In the current economic climate, we know many people with HIV are finding themselves in increasingly vulnerable positions. This conference will give people a chance to tell us what they need, and local authorities can use this feedback to inform future services.

“South West Think Positive isn’t just for people living with HIV either. Anyone who works in a profession where a knowledge of the issues might be useful – doctors, teachers, even prison officers – should benefit from attending the sessions. We would encourage anyone with an interest in HIV, whether personal or professional, to sign up for their place.”

Gillian Douglas, Equalities & Community Cohesion Manager at Bristol City Council, added: “With changes in equality legislation offering greater protection from discrimination for everyone, Bristol City Council’s Equalities Team is pleased to be supporting this timely Conference in partnership, to raise awareness of some of the challenges still facing people across the region who are living with and affected by HIV”.

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