We’re Recruiting! Finance Manager

LASS (responding to the challenges of HIV and health) is 30 years old this year. In that time, it has seen the environment around HIV treatment and prevention change radically. Over the last few years we have been branching out; we have started our own social enterprise and have started to generate income in a much wider variety of ways. However, strict control of our finances remains a priority and we are looking for an experienced person with accounting qualification to AAT licensed accountant level 4 or equivalent.

The task list includes:

  • Maintain financial procedures and financial controls
  • Ensure finance reporting and accounting is managed in a timely manner and in keeping with all necessary financial protocols
  • Administer and monitor bank accounts and payments
  • Income management – invoicing, record keeping
  • Payroll
  • Assist with the financial aspects of bids, grant applications and project proposals
  • Annual returns
  • Prepare accounts for audit or independent review at year end and liaise with the external company providing these services
  • Use appropriate finance software packages to produce report and manage accounts – we use SAGE

There is the opportunity to work flexibly and to work-from-home on occasion.

To apply, download and review the Job Description / Person Specification and please send your CV together with a letter of application outlining your experience, knowledge and skills in brief against the person specification to Caro Hart (caro@lass.org.uk)

Please give examples from the world of work, volunteering or other areas or work. Please note that your application will not be considered unless you have completed the letter of application in full.

  • Closing date 24th November 2017 at noon.
  • Interview date Friday 8th December at times between 09:00 and 13:00 (Please indicate your availability in your covering letter).

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From HIV to trafficking: shifting frames for sex work in India

Hijras in a train in Rajasthan in 2012. Giannis Papanikos/Demotix.

Hijras in a train in Rajasthan in 2012. Giannis Papanikos/Demotix.

The conflation of trafficking and prostitution in anti trafficking discourses not only frames all sex workers as victims in need of rescue, but elides the reasons many include sex work as part of their complex livelihood strategies.

NGOs focusing specifically on ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking’ (where ‘trafficking’ is conflated with prostitution) in India have only been around since the mid and late 1990s. There has been a steep rise in their numbers in the last decade. Previously, if organizations addressed the needs of sex workers, they did so within the rubric of HIV/AIDS. Indian HIV/AIDS organizations were spurred into existence by the flow of international aid dollars that increasingly became available to organisations working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the first decade of the AIDS pandemic (1985-1995). Funds for HIV-related work in India came from the European Union, Sweden, Norway, and Canada into then relatively new entities like India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). This money provided the infrastructural support for both governmental and nongovernmental efforts to surveil, control, and eventually treat HIV and AIDS. Local organisations also emerged as a result of this new funding to provide HIV-related services to sex workers, men who have sex with men, andhijras (people assigned male sex at birth who live as a ‘third sex’ in the feminine range of the gender spectrum).

By the late 1990s, thanks to feminist debates on pornography and prostitution, an antitrafficking framework—composed of laws, policies, and theories that used prostitution as an allegory for women’s oppression by men—was taking hold within some national governments and segments of the international policy-making community as a primary lens for understanding sexual commerce. This framework now largely dominates the discussion, having become the ‘common sense’ of sexual commerce and even, to a degree, migration among poor and working class people. This is despite the fact that the trafficking framework has been repeatedly criticised for conflating human trafficking with prostitution, and for failing to provide clear parameters for tracking the phenomena it aims to describe. It remains, for the moment, a significant but contested lens on sexual commerce for international policy, especially with respect to interventions crafted for countries in the Global South.

The rise in the explanatory power of the anti trafficking framework for understanding phenomena like migration and the exchange of sex and money in the Global South paralleled an increase in the significance of prostitution in the global image and imaginary of India, usually as the dark foil of India’s buoyant economic growth rates. By 2007, ‘prostitution in India’ had become a categorical focus for charitable organizations, an object of study for filmmakers, a worthy cause for politicians and celebrities, and a Wikipedia entry. This was not due to the discourse on HIV per se, nor was it due to an increase in the proliferation of HIV in India (the national rate of new infections decreased by half between 2000 and 2009). Rather, the increased significance of prostitution to the idea of India itself was linked with the increased global significance of the anti trafficking framework.

While this framework is far from being unequivocally dominant in managing and understanding prostitution, its increased significance in the halls of international policy formulation has helped position prostitution as particularly important to understandings of women in the Global South. This conflation of trafficking and prostitution is contextualised by a number of historical trends, including the ways in which discourses of venereal disease have figured female sex workers as infectious vectors since the nineteenth century. It is also contextualized by the altered conditions for labour migration brought about in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the adoption of neoliberal economic policies in many parts of the world; the well-rehearsed histories of feminist pornography debates in the United States; and the confluence of interests between governments and some segments of women’s movements in seeking to eliminate illegal and undocumented cross-border migration. While migrancy has changed dramatically in the era of neoliberalism, such that economic migrants are vulnerable to wage theft, debt bondage, exploitation, and abuse in new and unprecedented ways, we may ask whether the frame of ‘trafficking’ accurately tracks and addresses these vulnerabilities, or whether it is more effective in protecting states’ interests in securing and monitoring borders?

At worst, the rise in the explanatory power of ‘trafficking’ for prostitution consists of an elision of political economy within discourses of sexuality, contributing to the reproduction of the idea that sexual freedom, autonomy, expression, and even sexual subjectivity are all luxury goods, available only to those whose access to food and shelter is secure. This form of depoliticisation within sexuality politics in the United States and elsewhere has attracted much scholarly and activist attention, as well as criticism from both the mainstream left and the LGBTQ left. In my view, a sustained scholarly engagement with sexual commerce in the Global South would not only offer a way to critique prostitution per se. It would also demonstrate the kind of discussion of sexuality, politics, and power that is possible when sexuality is not primarily or exclusively understood as a form of individuated, innate human expression.

The result of this depoliticisation in understandings of sexual commerce has been the subjection of women and girls selling sexual services to a discourse in which prostitution is a state of being from which they must simply be rescued. In this discursive trajectory, sexual commerce is never figured as a livelihood strategy that is part of a complex set of negotiations for daily survival that include, but cannot be reduced to, violence and precarity. Just as identitarianism marginalises questions of political economy with respect to LGBTQ politics, the conflation of selling sexual services with human trafficking deprioritises and, in some spaces, erases the question of survival with respect to sexual commerce. This individuated frame reinforces and reifies the idea of origins, on the moment in which an individual subject knew, came out, was forced, was called into being, within a fixed subjective matrix.

_Street Corner Secrets _takes up this critique by asking what an analysis of sexual commerce would be if it were to use a framework other than trafficking, one that focuses instead, for example, on the relationship between sexuality and livelihood? How would such an analysis account for violence, without conflating the exchange of sex and money with violence? The book does this by emphasizing the idiosyncratic and extremely local ways in which laws and criminality are interpreted and enforced as part of a larger focus on migration and daily economic survival. This emphasis is able to account for the relationship between sexual commerce and the profoundly uneven and inadequate access to water and land among poor migrants living in Mumbai. Here, the difference between living in a brothel and a slum is, among another things, the relatively higher access to municipal services like water and government-run schools among brothel-based sex workers, compared with those eking out a living in the slums at the edge of the city.

The emphasis in the book on livelihood, economic informality, housing and the liminal legal zones migrants must navigate in the city opens up a number of questions that are subsumed, or unasked, when abolitionism imbricated with trafficking serves as the primary interpretive frame for sexual commerce. What, for example, could a critical examination of sexual commerce reveal about the politics of day wage labour? What would it show about the exercise of state power on the urban street? What could it reveal about economic survival, in the Indian context, or in any other? Addressing these questions brings us closer to discursively repositioning violence, such that we may account for violence as it is meted out in myriad forms by police, housing authorities, and clients against people selling sexual services, while also explaining why sexual commerce endures as a livelihood strategy among people who are extracting survival from an shrinking field of economic options.

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LASS AGM 2017

We are pleased to invite you to LASS’ 30th Annual General Meeting on 26th October 2017. We will be celebrating the past 30 years of achievement and looking ahead to the future and new horizons.

The meeting will take place at 18:30 in the Lounge at the LGBT Centre 15 Wellington St, Leicester LE1 6HH (Map / Directions). The formal business will be followed by a presentation on LASS’ first thirty years and the opportunity to chat to LASS’ staff and trustees.

Coffee & tea and nibbles will be available from 18:00 and we invite you to stay for a drink and birthday cake afterwards.

Please RSVP to Sylvia at reception@lass.org.uk or please call us on 0116 255 9995.

We look forward to welcoming you.

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Swine flu information for people living with HIV.

The dreaded flu season is upon us and you’re probably aware that flu vaccines are available, and offered for free to certain groups on the NHS.  Here’s some information, relative to people who are living with HIV.

!! IMPORTANT. The following information should not be interpreted as medical advice.  We are simply presenting facts and you should always speak with your doctor or medical team when discussing a change or supplementing your health care.

While a bad cold can include aching limbs, headaches and general exhaustion too, the difference with flu is it’s more severe, you’ll probably struggle to get out of bed and there’s often a fever as well.

How Serious is the flu when you’re HIV positive?

If you’re in overall good health, you’ll usually recover naturally from flu after a week or so and some sensible rest; pain-killers, plenty of fluids and keeping warm all help. However, flu can be very serious for those less able to fight off or cope with the virus.

Complications can arise, including a worsening of any pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and flu also leads to a number of deaths each year, particularly in the elderly. HIV infection reduces CD4 levels and function which means the bodies of individuals with a low CD4 count have to work harder to fight the flu. However, even with HIV, the human immune system can still fight the swine flu virus to a degree. Data so far does not show that people living with HIV are at a higher risk of catching swine flu virus than the rest of the population.

That being said, if you are infected (with the flu), Swine flu illness may develop at a higher rate amongst people living with HIV with a CD4 count of less than 250 cells/mm3 and not on antiretroviral therapy. Patients with CD4 count of less than 250 cells/mm3 need to contact their HIV department to start anti HIV treatment as soon as possible.

Should People Living with HIV receive the Swine flu (H1N1) vaccination ?

“No one likes getting the flu, but while most people (including people living with HIV) are able to shake it off, people living with HIV are considered to be an at-risk group and are eligible for a free annual flu vaccination.

The influenza vaccine (flu jab) protects against different strains of flu. Unlike a cold, flu can have serious symptoms such as fever and painful limbs. It can lead to complications These can include chest infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

It is recommended that people Living with HIV receive the flu vaccination, as they may be at higher risk of developing serious flu and related complications. Flu vaccination should be repeated every year, as the strain of seasonal influenza infecting people changes every year.

People living with with HIV should receive the flu shot rather than the nasal spray. The shot does not contain live flu virus whereas the nasal spray contains flu virus that is alive but weakened. It is not recommended that HIV-infected people (particularly those with CD4 (T-cell) counts <250 cells/mm3) receive the nasal spray, since people with vulnerable immune systems may have a higher risk of complications from the nasal spray. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

You should tell your doctor if you are allergic to eggs or have had a bad reaction to other vaccinations in the past before you receive the flu shot.

Pneumococcal vaccination

People living with HIV are also recommended to have a pneumococcal vaccination (known as a ‘pneumo jab’). This will protect you against infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia.

You may only need one vaccination or it might need to be repeated after five years. You will be able to get the vaccination from your GP, so you could have it at the same time as your flu jab.  If your GP doesn’t know about your HIV status please speak to someone at your HIV clinic about where to get vaccinated.

I had a vaccination last year, do I really need another one?

Yes – because flu viruses are constantly mutating, so new vaccines are developed each season.  With many illnesses, one jab will keep you immunised for the rest of your life.  Unfortunately, just like HIV, the flu virus is very clever and constantly changes to build up a resistance to the vaccines we produce.

That’s why you need to have a new flu jab every year and stay one step ahead.

It’s also important to be aware that there are lots of flu viruses, and while the vaccines are the best form of protection currently available, they won’t provide 100% protection against flu, so you’d still need to seek medical advice if you experienced symptoms at any point.

It’s best to try at get it done at the start of the season if possible.

Can I catch flu from a flu jab?

No – technically, this isn’t possible, as there are no ‘active viruses’ in the vaccine when administered intravenously.  The NHS points out that you may experience some mild aches and a mild fever for a couple of days afterwards, but serious side-effects are deemed very rare. As with everything we come into contact with, allergic reactions can occur. If you did experience any warning signs, seek urgent medical advice.

What about interactions/side effects between antiretroviral agents & anti-novel H1N1 drugs?

There are two agents active against novel H1N1 virus; tamiflu® (taken as tablets) and relenza® (administered via inhalers). There is little data available on the interaction between anti HIV treatment and these agents. It is likely that protease inhibitors (kaletra, atazanavir, darunavir) may interact with tamiflu® and increase the rate of side effects associated with tamiflu®.

The current advice is to take the drugs and inform your doctor if you developed any side effects. The most significant side effects include neurological and those reducing kidney function. Relenza® is believed to be safe with anti HIV treatment regimes.

What should I do before receiving my vaccination?

The information presented here is not medical advice nor should it be interpreted as medical advice.  You should always speak with your doctor or medical team when discussing a change or supplementing your health care.

What can I do to protect myself from Swine Flu?

Make good hygiene a habit for yourself and your children by following the information below:

  • If you are not currently on HIV treatment, speak with your doctor, particularly if your CD4 count is low (around 250 cells/mm3)
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (Especially after using public transport or being in public spaces).
  • Use a paper towel to dry your hands and if you use cloth towels, wash them daily
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. Virus spread this way
  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Dispose of used tissue in the bin
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue
  • Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing
  • Clean hard surfaces, like door handles frequently using normal cleaning products
  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Stop smoking, smoking suppresses the natural immunity in your lungs
  • Eat a balanced diet; including plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. Also include low fat diary products, lean meats, poultry, fish and beans
  • Drink lots of water
  • Reduce your salt, sugar and alcohol intake
  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Take your anti-retroviral drugs fully and regularly

In addition to providing this information when ‘flu season’ hits, we ask our staff and volunteers to receive a vaccination.  We do this to prevent ourselves from catching the flu, so there is less chance for our clients and service users to catch it from us.

Want more information?

Visit the NHS choices page on the Flu Jab for more infomration: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx

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We have the ability to end HIV in our lifetime!

Image by NIAID (CC BY 2.0)

London’s largest sexual health clinic, Dean Street is on track to record a huge drop in new HIV cases for a second successive year. In light of this, Dean Street has set itself a target of zero new infections after  witnessing a two-thirds fall in the number of new diagnoses since 2015.

So what’s happened? – PrEP has happened.  PrEP is a HIV prevention, once a day pill which you take regularly, or semi regular (depending on your circumstances).  For more information on PrEP please visit Prepster or The Terrence Higgins Trust

The reduction in new HIV diagnosis attributed to intensive testing of high-risk gay men, quick access to antiretroviral therapy and trials of PrEP which will be offered free on the NHS to 10,000 people from next month.

Dean Street diagnosed 136 people with HIV between January and July, putting it on course for a total of 233 by the end of the year.  If achieved, this would be the second successive fall in excess of 40 per cent, down from 679 in 2015 and 393 last year, when clinicians first raised the possibility of defeating HIV.

Dean Street’s figures are notable as it is also the largest HIV clinic in Europe and typically accounts for one in nine of all new cases in the UK.

Lead clinician Dr Alan McOwan said the latest figures were “great but not good enough” and told the Standard: “It’s a very exciting time. Everyone is so motivated to make this work. In 2015 we were diagnosing about 60 to 70 people positive a month. It dropped dramatically last year, and it’s still dropping. Over the last few months it’s between 15 to 20 people a month.”

Public Health England figures show that the total number of HIV diagnoses in London has fallen steadily from more than 3,000 in 2006 to 2,603 in 2015. It has risen within the highest-risk group of “men who have sex with men”, who now account for more than half the cases. One in seven gay and bisexual men in the capital has HIV.

Figures published earlier this summer for London’s five busiest clinics, including Dean Street and Mortimer Market, also in Soho, showed a 32 per cent fall in new HIV cases, from 880 to 595, in the year to last September.

Dr McOwan said the initial fall in infections diagnosed at Dean Street since 2015 had been concentrated among “very well-informed, assertive people” who bought PrEP online and followed medical advice.

The clinic’s Plan Zero initiative, unveiled this week, will provide tailored advice online to “harder to reach” gay and bisexual men on how to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, and preventing onward transmission. “Shockingly, there are still groups of people who have very, very little awareness of even the basics of HIV,” Dr McOwan said. Participants are asked to answer five questions about their lifestyle, adapting the answers depending on whether they are HIV positive or negative, have sex with multiple partners, use condoms, or take PrEP.

“We finally have the tools to end HIV,” Dr McOwan said. “Plan Zero brings them together into one package. We will beat HIV if we all act together.”

Dean Street, part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS trust, will be among the first London clinics to offer PrEP before it becomes available country-wide by next April.

The drug, previously available to about 1,000 gay men via the Proud clinical trial, cuts the risk of contracting HIV from unprotected sex by about 86 per cent.

NHS England decided to make it available under a £10 million three-year trial after being told by the Court of Appeal last year that funding PrEP fell within the health service’s remit. The trial will be the biggest of its kind in the world.

It is not yet known how Leicester & Leicestershire will be involved in the trial.

The introduction of anti-retroviral therapy two decades ago was credited with transforming HIV from a fatal infection into a chronic manageable condition. However, there were 594 deaths of people with HIV in the UK last year.

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Gallery

Photographs from Leicester Pride 2017

This gallery contains 77 photos.

Originally posted on tjrfoto:
Leicester Pride is attended by more 10,000 people each year with more than 2,000 taking part in the parade through the city, starting at The Curve and ending at Victoria Park.  Leicester Pride celebrates equality and diversity…

New Integrated Sexual Health Services, we need your opinion!

We invite you to consult and provide your opinion on ‘integrated sexual health services’. This includes contraceptive services and prevention, HIV & STI testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. These services can be used by people no matter where they live. (Please note, this survey does not include the HIV Treatment and care services which are provided by University Hospitals of Leicester).

We would like your views to help determine what the new services should offer and how they will work. In addition we also want to highlight future sexual health services available in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and how people will be able to access them.

We need to understand how people might be affected by any proposed changes to how we run our sexual health services. This is why we are asking members of the public, services users, staff and partner organisations to comment on the proposed changes.

The proposed changes will be described in more detail in each section of this consultation. A summary of the proposed changes is also available on the first summary page of the questionnaire.

To give your views, please follow the link to the online survey and please feel free to share this survey with your friends and networks.
https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/communications/sexual-health-services-review/

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