On Thursday 1 December at 8pm the Dule of Lancaster is holding a Karaoke Night in aid of World Aids Day. Expect showstopping talent - and possibly a little torment - as the real muscle of the City's vocal talent takes to the stage to either knock your socks off - or sinuously unroll them.
The spotlight has gone away from the issue of HIV/AIDS in the UK, possibly reflecting a growing belief within the UK that the illness poses little threat to or from those who take responsible precautions. Huge advances have been made and life expectancies are growing all the time.
However Robert Mee, who is the new HIV Support Worker for the area told us: "A particular problem in the North West is that people put off getting tested. Like cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed, the sooner you can start treatment that will prevent it developing into something life-threatening. Unfortunately people are dying who could still be living positive lives and looking forward to many more active years if they had been tested and diagnosed and started their treatment earlier.
Virtual-Lancaster phoned the Lancaster GUM (Sexual Health) Clinic and discovered that you can now get an appointment for a test within 48 hours of calling, for any STD. (In the case of HIV it takes two weeks after the test for the results to come back.) A very friendly woman told us that many people come for 'peace of mind' checks, and they are welcome.
The rise in HIV cases, and particularly deaths, among the UK heterosexual population may be largely blamed on late diagnoses, as many hets, particularly the younger ones, see the risk from unprotected sex as negligible.
Robert told us that the organisation he works for in Lancaster, 'Positive Living Lancashire' which is part of Body Positive North West, offers confidential advice, reliable information and support locally on HIV-related matters. Robert offers an understanding and well-informed ear to your concerns and where there's a need he can also link you up with specialist one-to-one counselling, the support group, benefits and services advice etc, and support you in your next steps. You can contact Robert Mee by phoning 079 2534 3139.
Services locally have clearly improved considerably over recent years, as have the prospects for local people who are diagnosed with HIV - early diagnosis and treatment means that thousands of people are living healthy positive lives decades later. So there's plenty to sing for!
The party season is beginning and the reminder is there - party responsibly, take care of yourself and others. (And if in doubt, don't funk out, phone the nice people at the GUM clinic on 0845 0590 015 and they will see you right.)
And get yourself down to the Thursday Night Karaoke and Wold Aids Day Fundraiser at the very friendly Duke of Lancaster for what will surely be one of its most brilliant nights!