Tree of life symbolises hundreds in Herts with HIV

A ‘TREE of life’ has been planted in Knebworth Park to acknowledge those living with HIV in the area and those who have died from the disease.

Estate managing director and patron of HIV charity Herts Aid, Martha Lytton Cobbold joined friends of the charity and political leaders in the grounds of Knebworth house to plant the symbolic Lime sapling on Friday.

The event in the run up to World AIDS Day on December 1 is part of a year-long Herts Aid initiative to raise awareness of the needs of people with HIV and to destigmatise the disease.

Mrs Lytton Cobbold said: “It’s a nice way to mark Word AIDS Day. By planting a living tree it gives a message of regeneration. Perhaps from a winter of suffering – it’s a very positive message.

“Herts Aid do amazing work with the county. It’s very important that message is expressed.”

The charity said 853 people aged 15 to 59 are currently accessing HIV related care in the county, but estimate 25 per cent of the HIV population are unaware they have the virus – taking the figure over 1,000.

In Stevenage 97 people have HIV, while in North Herts 76 are living with the disease – the third and fifth highest figures in Hertfordshire.

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A prevented infection saves the NHS around �250,000, a Herts Aid spokesman said.

More than 100,000 people in the UK are living with the disease.