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Full Report: Change needed in public attitude towards HIV

A man with HIV from Dumfriesshire says he's treated like a leper when people learn he has the virus.

Michael Hebington contracted HIV almost thirty years ago and has suffered prejudice and abuse.

He's now calling for a change in public attitude towards the disease.

World Aids Day is coming up, and a recent report suggests worrying gaps in knowledge about the virus in Scotland.

Fiona McIlwraith reports:

HIV: The false preconceptions

As World AIDS Day approaches on 1 December campaigners and charities are urging for more people to learn about the virus.

Waverley Care, a charity which supports people with HIV, found that there are worrying gaps in the knowledge of most people about how the virus is spread.

The study found that in South Scotland almost 20% of people thought that HIV could be spread through kissing.

The most common misconceptions are that the virus can be spread through:

  • Kissing
  • Spitting
  • Being bitten
  • Contact with unbroken, healthy skin
  • Being sneezed on
  • Sharing bath, towels and cutlery
  • Using the same toilets and swimming pools
  • Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • Contact with animals or insects such as mosquitoes

A lack of general HIV knowledge was also highlighted throughout Scotland with national figures showing nearly a quarter (23%) of adults are unaware that a person who is HIV positive can live for more than 20 years.

For more information on HIV and how it's spread click here.

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Attitudes towards HIV must change says Langholm man

A man from Langholm who has been living with HIV for 30 years says more needs to be done to educate people about the condition.

Michael Hebington contracted HIV whilst living in New York in 1984.

He has been ill as a result of the virus for a long time and has seen many friends die from AIDS.

He told ITV about just some of the prejudice he's faced as a result of people not understanding how HIV is spread:

"I used to take my mother to the day centre five days a week, in the car, and after a couple of years I remember going in one ... going to the door one day and the person that runs it came to the door and she says Michael do you mind just dropping your mother off at the door and picking her up and the door when you come to get her? And I says no I says what's going on I'm her carer. She says oh there's been a complaint and says I hope it's not what I think it is, and he says it is Michael, someone saw you near the kitchen and said you were a health risk."

– Michael Hebington

Langholm man urges people to learn more about HIV

Michael Hebington has been living with HIV for 30 years. Credit: ITV News

Michael Hebington has been living with HIV for 30 years.

He contracted the virus when he was living in New York in 1984 and three decades on he is able to manage the condition well.

But he says people are still ignorant about his condition and treat him like a lepar.

As World Aids Day approaches on 1 December he says attitudes need to change and is urging people to try and better understand how HIV is transmitted and how people can live with it.

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Some patients may be unaware of HIV scare

"We have identified that 247 patients were treated by this dentist. Of these, we are unable to find addresses for 14, almost certainly because they no longer live in Dumfries and Galloway.

"If you were seen at a Sunday emergency dental clinic at Nithbank between April 2004 and April 2007 and have not yet received a letter, it is unlikely that you were treated by the dentist in question.

"Nevertheless, if you are concerned that you may have been missed off the list please contact the helpline."

– Dr Derek Cox, Director of public health, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Dumfries dental patients' HIV scare

Dentist and patient Credit: PA

Around 250 dental patients in Dumfries have been warned of a 'slight risk' that they may have been exposed to HIV, after a former dentist who treated them was found to have the disease.

The former dentist, who has not been named to protect patient confidentiality, treated people in Dumfries over a three year period.

The dentist provided locum Sunday emergency cover at Nithbank Hospital between April 2004 and 2007.

Patients in the NHS Dumfries and Galloway area have been warned as a precaution of "a very slight risk that they might have been exposed to the virus".

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