Public Health England has awarded £500,000 to support seven innovative voluntary-led HIV projects across England.
HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) remains a major public health concern. Rates of infection are continuing to rise among certain groups of the population and the innovative M1 Distribution Centre Project aims to make a difference to HIV awareness by reducing late diagnosis and improving work place health. We will provide HIV and health awareness raising and testing events and use text messaging services to reach people who may not have time to get to their local health services. By working with some of the large work places in distribution centres in the Midlands along the M1, we will take health and HIV information and testing to where there are large numbers of male workers. Within the partnership we will share lessons and learning from the M1 events and also examine how people use texting to share information about health and HIV. We will particularly explore the project’s impact on HIV late diagnosis and awareness of HIV and other health conditions. We will also assess the impact that higher levels of awareness has on employment.
This project will be delivered by the East Midlands African HIV Prevention Partnership – a partnership of local HIV awareness delivery organisations ( AISD – Nottingham, Well for Life – Derbyshire, Sunrise Family Support – Corby, STASS – Milton Keynes and Embrace Life, Luton – coordinated by Well for Living – Leicester and working with the University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences as our evaluators.
There are an estimated 107,000 people living with the virus in the UK, of whom around a quarter (26,100) are unaware they have HIV and are at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to others. However targeted and innovative local initiatives can reduce the risk of people catching or passing on HIV.
The new National HIV prevention fund is supporting selected local projects that offer new and innovative ways of delivering HIV prevention, aiming to turn around the ever increasing numbers of new HIV diagnoses among certain groups of the population. Public Health England received over 90 applications to the fund for 2015-16 from all across England, from which seven projects were allocated funding.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said;
“While we are seeing HIV rates declining in the general population, it is still a serious problem within certain communities. The national innovation fund supports projects that offer creative approaches to a longstanding issue, boosting local action to help reduce the rates of HIV among high-risk groups, such as African communities.”
Jenny Hand, CEO of LASS and Well for Living said;
“We and our partners in the East Midlands African HIV Prevention Partnership are really delighted to be working closely with PHE on our innovation fund. We are confident that through our innovative M1 distribution centre project we will contribute to reducing late HIV diagnosis, improving HIV awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination.”
Dr. Holly Blake and Dr. Catrin Evans, senior researchers from the University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences, said:
“We are thrilled to be involved in this exciting initiative which combines established and new technologies in promoting health amongst groups who are traditionally very hard to reach. Lessons learned from this project have the potential to influence HIV prevention on a far wider level.”
The seven successful projects all target groups at high risk and are supported by their local authorities.
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