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Stratford-on-Avon District Council
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Health Awareness

On this page you will find information on some major illnesses, the campaigns in operation to raise awareness of them, and links to sources of further information.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October

The term breast cancer actually refers to a large family of cancers that can develop in any part of the breast tissue. 30% of all cases of cancer in women are breast cancer, and a staggering 11% of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Of these, nearly 80% of cases are detected by women themselves, so it makes sense to be 'breast aware'. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the campaign Breakthrough Breast Cancer seeks to raise awareness of this type of cancer. The Breakthrough Breast Cancer message is TLC:

Touch your breasts, feel for anything unusual
Look for changes. Be aware of their shape and texture.
Check anything unusual with your doctor. Chat with your friends if you are worried.

Further information about breast cancer can be found at the following websites:

Cancer Research
Breast Cancer Care
breastcancer.org
NHS Direct.

Meningitis Awareness

Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the lining surrounding the brain. It can be caused by many different organisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi and amoeba.

Some bacteria that cause meningitis can also cause septicaemia (blood poisoning), this is when the bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiplies uncontrollably. This is most often seen with meningococcal meningitis, causing meningococcal septicaemia.

Meningitis is not always easy to diagnose in the early stages, as symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and general tiredness, so the illness is often mistaken for others such as flu and migraine. However, if you suspect meningitis or septicaemia, seek medical attention immediately.

A vaccine is available for Meningitis C, and is given as part of the UK vaccination programme. The NHS recommends that all young people under the age of 25 should be vaccinated. Please visit the NHS Direct website, or ask your doctor for more information.

Further information on meningitis can be obtained from the website of the Meningitis Trust.

World AIDS Day - 1 December

World AIDS Day is about people getting the facts about HIV and AIDS. It is an opportunity to learn more and to show support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

The HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which causes AIDS is passed through body fluids, and transmitted in four ways:

  1. unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner (the most common);
  2. sharing needles when injecting or other use of contaminated injection or other skin- piercing equipment;
  3. blood and blood products through, for example, infected transfusions and organ or tissue transplants,
  4. transmission from infected mother to child in the womb or at birth and breastfeeding.

HIV is not transmitted by casual physical contact, coughing, sneezing and kissing, by sharing toilet and washing facilities, by using eating utensils or consuming food and beverages handled by someone who has HIV; it is not spread by mosquitoes or other insect bites. There is no cure for AIDS and it is almost always fatal.

Further information can be obtained from the National AIDS Trust website.