Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dame Elizabeth Taylor 1932 – 2011

One of the greatest film stars of all time, Elizabeth Taylor is probably best known for two things. Her role as Cleopatra in the 1963 film (of the same name) and her eight marriages to seven different men between 1951 and 1996.

She has twice won an Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Actress in the films Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She has also been nominated on numerous other occasions for films including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer.

Elizabeth Taylor won her first movie contract at the age of nine and made a successful transition through to adult star and in 1963, she became the first movie actress to be paid $1mill for her role as Cleopatra. She then went on to star in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” – a role that many see as her finest and of course the role that landed her a Second Oscar for Best Actress in 1966.

She is one of the few real survivors from Hollywood’s Golden Era. With a life that reads like a movie, she has had famous husbands, famous lovers, and devoted consistent and generous humanitarian time, advocacy efforts, and funding to HIV and AIDS-related projects and charities.  She was one of the first celebrities and public personalities to do so at a time when few acknowledged the rise of HIV, organising and hosting the first AIDS fundraiser in 1984, to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.  With over thirty years of active participation she was involved in raising more than $100 million dollars and expanding public awareness: to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS disease; confront its discrimination; and to expand research, treatment access, education, and government funding.

She was cofounder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research with Dr. Michael Gottlieb and Dr. Mathilde Krim in 1985.   Her long-time friend and former co-star Rock Hudson had disclosed having AIDS and died of it that year.  Elizabeth was the International Chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research until her passing earlier this week.

She also founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993, created to provide critically-needed support services for people with HIV/AIDS.  For example, in 2006 Elizabeth commissioned a 37-foot  “Care Van” equipped with examination tables and x-ray equipment, the New Orleans donation made by her Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.  That year, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she also donated $40,000 dollars to the NO/AIDS Task Force, a non-profit organisation serving the community of those affected by HIV/AIDS in and around New Orleans.

Elizabeth was honoured with a special Academy Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1992 for her HIV/AIDS humanitarian work. Speaking of that work, former President Bill Clinton said at her death, “Elizabeth’s legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the on-going efforts of those she inspired.

Elizabeth Taylor has had a monumental impact on pop culture, and we at LASS celebrate the life of a woman who used her unparalleled fame to combat HIV/AIDS at a time when those suffering from the disease were being ignored because of the stigma attached, this only made her fight harder.  It is that courage and determination that has continued to inspire new generations of fans that span every imaginable background. She was a true warrior who lived to the fullest with both passion and purpose.”

Dame Elizabeth Taylor 1932 – 2011

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent activists is available here.

Budget Takes Rights Away From People With HIV

In the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget yesterday there was an announcement in the ‘small print’ which takes rights away from people with HIV – the protection against ‘dual discrimination’.

The Equality Act 2010 for the first time prohibited what is known as ‘dual discrimination’, where someone is discriminated against because of a combination of two characteristics – for example someone who is an older woman may be discriminated against not just because she is a woman or because she is older, but because of the combination of these characteristics (think of recent debate over discrimination against older women television presenters).

People with HIV can experience dual discrimination – because they are gay and have HIV, or because they are African and have HIV.  NAT worked with many human rights organisations to secure the provision in the Equality Act 2010 which prohibited such dual discrimination.  In the ‘Plan for Growth’ published along with the Budget, the Government announced this protection will not be implemented.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:

‘We condemn the Government’s refusal to implement protection against dual discrimination – this is a backward step in the struggle for the rights of people with HIV and indeed many others who experience dual discrimination.

We seem to be back in the bad old days where human rights were thought somehow to harm the economy.  The Government should realise that ending all forms of discrimination in the workplace is not anti-business but provides us with the best possible workforce.  We urge the Government to change its mind and take a stand for fairness.’


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Detainees ‘denied HIV medication’

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Campaign group Medical Justice reported last Tuesday that HIV-positive asylum detainees are being denied live-saving treatment.

It called on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to end the detention of HIV-positive people after new research showed that most detainees assessed had been denied medication while being held.

More than three-quarters of deported detainees documented had little or no medication, a team of independent doctors found.

On one occasion UKBA attempted to deport an HIV-positive pregnant mother who had been given less than a month’s medication.

Many of the 35 men, women and children assessed are torture survivors from countries where rape is used as a weapon of war.

Medical Justice has been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to intervene in the case of three HIV-positive ex-detainees who argue their detention was unlawful due to a lack of proper treatment.

GP and HIV specialist Dr Indrajit Ghosh said: “UKBA claims that health-care in its centres is equivalent to that in the NHS, but the report shows that being in detention leads to a situation in which these patients cannot access proper medical care.

“In the case of HIV, this is a threat to the patients’ lives. HIV-positive people should therefore be released and properly cared for.”

Cardiff Lib Dem MP Jenny Willott added: “The clinical care in detention centres is currently so poor that it is a dangerous place for someone with HIV. Health and wellbeing is affected and lives are even being shortened. That is unacceptable.”

Director of detention services at UKBA Alan Kittle said it took its duty of care extremely seriously.

“As the Chief Medical Officer has confirmed, decisions regarding treatment and provision of anti-retroviral medication are entirely matters of clinical judgment for the NHS specialist HIV consultants and not UK Border Agency staff or its contractors, including removal centre healthcare providers.

“Individuals are assessed prior to their detention and continue to be treated throughout their stay,” he said.

“On removal, they are provided with a course of the relevant drugs the NHS specialist consultant considers to be necessary.”


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NICE supports expansion of HIV testing at GP’s and in hospital settings

In its first ever guidance related to HIV, the health watchdog NICE recommends that health services not concerned with sexual health take a greater role in offering HIV tests to black African people and to men who have sex with men.

NICE also encourages outreach testing projects for gay men in venues such as saunas and cruising grounds, using rapid point-of-care tests.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issues recommendations to the NHS about the most effective and cost-effective treatments and public health interventions to provide. In some cases, NHS bodies are legally required to fund medicines and treatments which are recommended by NICE.

Guidelines on HIV testing have been previously issued by organisations representing specialist clinicians such as the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH). Their most recent guidelines recommended that HIV testing should be offered to patients in a wide range of healthcare settings, including GP surgeries and most hospital departments.

Implementation of that part of the guidelines has generally been limited, although pilot projects have established that widespread HIV testing is feasible, acceptable to patients and effective in identifying a substantial number of people with undiagnosed HIV.

But with NICE today endorsing large parts of the BHIVA / BASHH guidelines, there may be more hope that non-specialist clinicians will take further steps to promote HIV testing.

NICE have produced public health guidance on increasing the uptake of HIV testing in two related documents.  One concerns interventions for men who have sex with men, the other work with black African communities.

The document concerning black African communities repeats a number of the key recommendations in the BHIVA / BASHH guidelines. In all healthcare settings (including general practice, outpatient and emergency departments), an HIV test should be routinely offered and recommended to all patients who come from high prevalence countries, patients who have had sexual contact abroad and patients who have symptoms that may be related to HIV.

In addition, everybody attending a sexual health, antenatal, termination of pregnancy, drug dependency, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or lymphoma services should be offered an HIV test.

At health services in areas of relatively high HIV prevalence, healthcare workers ‘should consider’ recommending HIV testing when registering and admitting new patients. In addition, an HIV test should be offered and recommended to all patients who are having another blood test anyway.

Areas of high HIV prevalence are those in which more than two in 1000 have diagnosed HIV. This is the case in most parts of London as well as in places such as Brighton & Hove, Manchester, Blackpool, Salford, Bournemouth and Eastbourne that have historically had high HIV prevalence. Areas which have experienced more recent increases in HIV prevalence such as Luton, Watford, Harlow, Southend-on-Sea, Reading, Slough and Crawley are also included, with around a fifth of the English population living in areas touched by these recommendations.

The wording of the document on testing men who have sex with men is somewhat different, but the implications are similar. In all healthcare settings, male patients who are known to be gay or bisexual should be offered and recommended an HIV test. General practitioners should repeat the offer on an annual basis.

At health services in areas of high HIV prevalence, all male patients (whether they are known to have sex with men or not) should be offered and recommended a test.

For both population groups, NICE recommends that directors of public health and commissioners develop a local strategy for increasing testing rates. The strategy should lead to more health professionals offering HIV testing and more individuals accepting the offer. The strategy should be developed in consultation with local voluntary organisations and community members and should pay particular attention to groups who are less likely to access services.

Community engagement and involvement is seen as particularly important in relation to black African communities. NICE recommends that community members should be recruited and trained to act as champions and role models. Programmes need to address misconceptions about HIV testing and treatment, promote the benefits of early diagnosis and tackle HIV-related stigma.

Health promotion interventions promoting testing to men who have sex with men should be encountered in venues, such as saunas or websites, which facilitate sex between men.

Moreover, the guidance supports outreach testing programmes in high-prevalence areas and also in venues where high-risk sexual behaviour between men occurs. This could include saunas and cruising areas. NICE appears to be more enthusiastic than BHIVA / BASHH about such projects, although they do note that testing will not be appropriate in all such venues. In such settings, rapid tests (using mouth swabs or fingerprick blood samples) should be provided by trained staff, in a secluded or private area.

All testing services (including community testing) need to have clear referral pathways to confirmatory HIV testing, HIV treatment services and support groups. Moreover people who test negative may need referral to counselling and safer sex interventions, as well as repeat testing (for example, if a risk has been taken during a test’s window period). Men who have sex with men are recommended to test annually, or more frequently if their sexual behaviour suggests that they may be at higher risk.

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners commented: “It is important that all health professionals do everything possible to encourage HIV testing amongst high risk groups. The RCGP welcomes the new NICE guidelines and we are sure that GPs will help patients come forward for testing.”

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “It is crucial that HIV testing becomes ‘normalised’ in our society, not just among gay men and African communities, but also amongst health professionals. Many people with HIV attend NHS services for years without being offered an HIV test and this neglect needs to be addressed and stopped.” She called for late HIV diagnosis to be used a key outcome indicator in public health monitoring and for the new government body, Public Health England, to ensure that NICE’s recommendations are “consistently implemented across the whole of the NHS and public health system”.


LASS offer a completly free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test.  We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories.  The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies.

Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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HIV tests to be offered in high-prevalence areas

Hundreds of thousands of people living in areas with high HIV infection rates face pressure to be tested for the virus under new plans designed to curtail its spread.

NHS staff will be told to “offer and recommend” tests to all those who use A&E services and register as new patients with GP practices in high prevalence areas in England. This move effectively forces patients to opt out of the testing.

In areas where more than two in 1,000 adults have been diagnosed with HIV, anyone who has a blood test for any reason should be offered a test for the virus too, according to guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The testing will cost nearly £16m a year and affect 37 primary care trusts, 26 of which are in London. Those outside the capital include Blackpool, Brighton and Hove, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester and Milton Keynes.

The policy, say its supporters, should lessen the stigma sometimes affecting gay men and black Africans, who make up significant proportions of those with the condition. Instead, HIV testing will become a more routine part of NHS healthcare.

Ben Tunstall, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the guidance was a vital step forward. “We urge anyone having sex with different partners to make regular HIV testing a priority. These guidelines need to be put into practice to combat onward transmission of HIV and reduce the unacceptably high levels of undiagnosed HIV that we’re still seeing in the UK.”

Keith Radcliffe, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: “The later people are diagnosed with HIV the more difficult and expensive it is to treat them, the poorer their outcome may be and the more likely they are to have transmitted the infection.”

Mike Kelly, director of the centre for public health excellence at Nice, said: “For many people of black African heritage there is a fear that being diagnosed HIV positive will result in social exclusion, or racism and prejudice from both inside and outside their community. As such there is often a reluctance to be tested, which can significantly delay diagnosis.”

Nice is acting on recommendations from health professionals, including the Health Protection Agency (HPA), to take a tougher line on testing.

The move also endorses the policy of the British HIV Association of offering tests to patients attending genito-urinary and sexual health clinics, antenatal and abortion services, or drug dependency programmes, and those treating people with TB, hepatitis or lymphoma.

The guidance was published alongside HPA figures suggesting that 46% of 6,750 estimated new HIV diagnoses in the UK last year were linked to sex between men, half were thought to be through heterosexual contact, with the rest attributed to causes such as infected needles, contaminated blood products and mother-to-child transmission.Of the new diagnoses, 3,780 people are thought to have acquired HIV in the UK rather than abroad, a figure that has doubled in the last decade. It includes 2,530 men who had had sex with men, and 1,150 people who were probably infected through heterosexual contact.


LASS offer a completly free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test.  We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories.  The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies.

Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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12 people woke up on Sunday morning to find their limbs black and blue with bruises and muscles aching after a long and hard day of vigorous exercise running around fast attempting to dodge paintballs, paint grenades and smoke bombs all in the name of winning points in frenzied, crazed exhilaration.

This is the day that LhivE, became a united tactical unit, had *lots* of exercise and enjoyed tremendous fun.

The day started with the Marshalls diving all present (about 100) into teams (we became Black Ops 😉 and given a very comprehensive safety talk on how to conduct ourselves and use the equipment safely.

We were all issued with a.68 calibre semi-automatic paintball gun with a 200 shot ammunition magazine, the author of this article took the game quite seriously by shouting “My rifle is my best friend. It is my life…

The games were a flurry of excitement, capturing the flag, scoring goals, protecting a VIP member of your team and general free for all’s (all whilst getting your clothing and boots filthy dirty and not caring about it one bit)! You don’t need to be fit to play the game but you need stamina and not be afraid of getting hit by paint balls traveling at 200 miles per hour and the determination to succeed when your enemy is advancing toward you.

We encourage anyone who is curious about paintball to give it a try and on behalf of everyone who had a thoroughly good time on Saturday, thank you to LhivE for organising the event. We look forward to another one soon.

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New Training

Here is the new programme of training from LASS to run from March to May 2011. We have some interesting topics and contributors to these sessions.

To book, please fill in the form at the bottom of this post. To book multiple sessions, please fill in the form again for each course, or mention in the Comments section.

Thursday 2nd June 10-12.30

  • HIV, Immigration & Asylum – with personal stories and information from IAS. This session will enable participants to gain an understanding of the complex laws of immigration and asylum and how it affects those living with HIV.

Monday 23rd May

HIV & Employment 2-4.30

HIV and Employees 6-8

  • Myths and misconceptions of HIV and its transmission, an explanation of the employment law for employers of people Living with HIV and an overview of the rules of the DDA 2005 and what its like for an employee living with HIV.

Wednesday 13th April 10-4

  • HIV & Criminalisation – Discussion and fact sharing on the controversy surrounding the laws of criminal HIV transmission. This session will be of interest to anyone practicing law, in the police force or criminal justice system and anyone living with HIV.

Thursday 12th May 2-4.30

  • HIV: The Basics – elementary information about HIV, transmission, risks, testing and medication. This will be of interest to anyone who currently has limited knowledge about HIV.

Date to be advised – in May

  • Spreading the HIV message to my community: This session will be led by members of African community groups who are actively promoting knowledge, will and power about HIV to their communities in different ways. They will share their approaches, experiences and feedback about the effect on their communities.

Please Note: Courses are FREE – however cancellations must be made in writing (post or email) to LASS or  ( at least 2 working days prior to the session date otherwise a cancellation fee of £50 will be charged.  You will receive confirmation of the cancellation in writing.

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