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2005-12-01-Website launch on World Aids Day
Ethnic communities in the West Midlands are being targeted by a website which gives information about HIV and Aids.
The launch on Thursday, Worlds Aids Day, comes as the region reports 494 new cases of HIV in the last year.
The NHS Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust (HoBTPCT) is running the site, entitled Steps2health.org.uk.
Thursday evening will see a candlelit vigil at Birmingham Cathedral to remember those who have died from an Aids-related illness.
A UN Aids report showed new diagnoses of HIV doubled in the UK in the last four years - from 3,499 in 2000 to 7,258 in 2004.
There were 494 new diagnoses of HIV reported in the West Midlands, a decrease of 4% compared with 2003 - the first yearly decrease since 1998.
In the West Midlands most of the increase is due to a steep rise in the number of heterosexually-acquired HIV infections.
The rate of increase in the Black African community is increasing at a far greater rate than in any other group.
Dr John Sentamu - the previous Bishop of Birmingham and now Archbishop of York, said: "Steps2health.org.uk will provide an excellent online source of information on HIV for the Black African communities of Birmingham."
The website also contains a confidential online questionnaire to allow assessment of HIV risk.
Liz Morris, from HoBTPCT's Sexual Health Promotion Service , said: "With nearly 500 new cases of HIV diagnosed in the last year in the West Midlands, there is a real need to raise awareness of the condition regionally and provide a supportive tool for local NHS services.
"The new website is the first of its kind in offering an online HIV risk assessment for the African community. It will help us to reach a population who are reluctant to test due to the stigma associated with HIV."
Children from the George Dixon International School and sixth Form Centre and staff and volunteers from the African Community Council for the Regions will release 1,000 black and white balloons to mark the launch outside Birmingham Cathedral, on Thursday afternoon.