Monthly Archives: November 2012

“…and it won’t go away.” 25 Years of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services


The LASS History Project records the changing experiences of people affected by HIV over the years, while highlighting the extent to which HIV continues to disproportionately affect the most marginalised. It documents and celebrates the way people in Leicester came together to respond to the then, new virus and captures changes in attitudes, demography and health outcomes over the past 25 years.

LASS formed in 1987 as a telephone helpline for the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, at a time when it was almost impossible to find premises because of fear and stigma. 25 years later, we support over 500 people affected by HIV, we run a community rapid HIV testing service and work across communities to increase understanding and knowledge about HIV.

We received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a history project to mark our 25th anniversary year. This project has created a publication and currently developing an archive, and will continue to produce mobile exhibition materials to capture the stories and experiences of people involved in LASS’s work over the past 25 years.

We highlight the distinctive characteristics of LASS, which include our location in the ethnically and culturally diverse city of Leicester and changes in our client group over the years.

While we show that HIV remains a significant local issue – with Leicester experiencing the 6th highest rising rate of infection in the country – we also celebrate the improved life expectancy of people with HIV, and show how LASShas evolved to meet changing needs and demands on our services.

It is our hope, that our history will inspire others and continue to raise awareness of the changing issues in responding to HIV and to challenge persistent myths and stereotypes.

Download your copy here

(PS: Celebrate World AIDS Day with us tomorrow night)! Click here for more details!

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Record numbers of UK gay men test positive for HIV


  • Almost half of new cases are gay or bisexual males
  • Up to 10,000 unaware of their infection, says study

The number of gay men being diagnosed with HIV has reached a record high in the UK, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

One in 20 gay men and men who occasionally have sex with men are HIV positive in the UK – and in London, the ratio is as high as one in 12. Part of the reason for the observed rise is increased testing, but, says the HPA, it is also clear that too many men are unaware that they have HIV and are unknowingly infecting others.

“About 8,000 to 10,000 gay men are HIV positive and unaware of their status,” said Dr Valerie Delpech, the HPA’s head of HIV surveillance.

According to the HPA’s annual report, released on Thursday in advance of World Aids Day on Saturday, 3,010 men who have sex with men were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011 – 47.9% of all new diagnoses in the UK. The numbers have remained high since 2007.

Men who have tested positive and been put on drug treatment, which can keep them healthy and give them a normal lifespan, are unlikely to be infectious. Trials have shown that treatment has a role to play in preventing the spread of the epidemic – the drugs reduce the levels of virus in somebody with HIV to such a low level that they are unlikely to transmit the infection to a sexual partner.

The HPA and organisations for those diagnosed with HIV are all advocating regular testing for anybody at risk. Gay men and other men who have sex with men should take an annual test, they say – and if they have new or casual partners, they should be tested every three months.

Living a long and healthy life with HIV depends on starting treatment early. “People are still starting late: they are infected for three to five years before they are diagnosed,” said Delpech. People who are diagnosed as HIV positive late are at 10 times the risk of dying within a year of discovering they have the infection. They are also more likely to infect people while they remain unaware of their status.

The black African community in Britain also faces a higher risk than average, with 37 out of every 1,000 living with HIV last year. Far more men and women in the black African community are diagnosed late than gay men – 68% and 61% respectively, compared with 35%.

The HPA is recommending safe-sex programmes promoting condom use and annual HIV testing as a priority for this community as well as for men who have sex with men. They want NHS clinicians to take every opportunity to offer testing to those at higher risk.

The total number of people in the UK living with HIV climbs steadily every year because treatment is keeping more people alive. Including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases, it has now reached 96,000, with a total of 6,280 new diagnoses in 2011.

Nearly half of all new diagnoses were acquired heterosexually. More than half of all new UK infections were acquired while the subject was in Britain, compared with 27% in 2002: the small drop in new infections last year, from 6,400 in 2010 to 6,280 last year, was because of the drop in the number of people who had been infected abroad.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: “What is striking about the HPA’s data is how it really shows both our successes and our shortcomings in tackling HIV in the UK. On the one hand, we can hail treatment as a real success story. Treatment is effective, people diagnosed with HIV can access it easily and it is working in keeping the virus under control.

“However, when it comes to increasing the uptake of testing – the gateway to treatment – our services are patchy, inconsistent and ultimately we are still failing to make any significant headway in tackling the high rates of undiagnosed HIV.

“A quarter of people living with HIV are unaware they have the virus. As long as this figure remains high, new infections will continue to occur. We must increase our efforts in encouraging people to test and making sure that the health service is taking advantage of every single avenue in offering an opportunity to test – something that isn’t happening at the moment.”

Sir Nick Partridge, the chief executive of the HIV/Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, spoke up for safe sex and said that testing could add 40 years to a person’s life. “HIV is an entirely preventable condition, yet each year we see thousands more people across the UK receive this life-changing diagnosis,” he said. “While there is still no cure and no vaccine, that doesn’t mean we need to accept its continuing march.”

Original Story via Sarah Boseley, health editor at The Guardian

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Celebrate World AIDS Day With Us, on Saturday Night!!

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services present you with an evening of fabulous live music entertainment in support of World AIDS Day.  We have an eclectic mix of music lined up from 4 great bands featuring;

COUNTERACTIONBAND, a UK Dub and Roots Live Band
Fully dedicated to the sounds of conscious Dub and Roots, the CounterAction Band’s mission is to represent the vibes of heavy dub sound system culture live on stage!

This multi-cultural band is; fronted by I-mitri (Greece) on lead/backing vocals, rhythm guitar and percussion, with Citizen Baxter (Ireland) on bass, Pandacub (Wales+Cornwall) on drums, and Eli P (Dominica) on Keys+MPCs.

When not drawing from the extensive CounterAction vaults for material the crew occasionally act as a backing band for artists like Jah Marnyah and Parvez (The Dub Factory) amongst others, and host the monthly live Dub night “Recession Sessions” in Leicester. They have shared the stage with great sounds like Aba Shanti I and bands like the Blood Shanti Ites, the Splitters, Flux and Vibronics!

MULTIMORPH – The current vehicle for Maureen Anderson’s poetry and general creativity, Multimorph rose from the ashes of Shapeshifter when the latter’s long-standing guitarist Dave Johnson passed away from cancer in March 2009.

Maureen is now joined by dual guitarists Kevin Hewick and Rizz James, dual bassists Dave Dhonau and Darren Baxter, cajon drummer Jim Tetlow and Darren’s partner Helena McLeod as additional vocalist since guesting on their ‘Meditation Chamber’ album. Live performances are further augmented by the live painting and costumes of local artist Nick Nixon and the liquid light show of Lumiere Ogbanje to create a bizarre but infectiously memorable live experience.

SLEEPING THOUGH RAPTURE is an alternative band made up of four musicians from Leicester. After a year of playing together, the band has written lots of great material and has played gigs around Leicester.

You can check out their blog, for more info on this up and coming band:

And finally but by no means least is GEORGE SANDERSUN who evokes bright summer days or the dark depths of the woods with his intriguing psychedelic folk.

His song writing references 60s, new wave psychedelic and traditional folk, with multi layered solo harmony effects that meld together to form an earthy mellow approach creating a sound that’s fresh and real.
Fans of Iron and Wine or Fleet Foxes should definitely check out George!

A special thanks to Neil Segrott who be on the PA driving the sound for the night.

The concert is hosted at the Y Theatre, 7 East Street  City Centre, Leicester LE1 6EY (Click for a map).

Tickets cost £10 (£8 consessions) from the Y Theatre, available from this link:

**Special Offer**

Buy your tickets directly from LASS and buy one, get one free.  Contact our reception, on 0116 2559995 for more information.


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World AIDS Day Saturday 1st December 2012

One Voice Many Faces: United to reduce HIV Stigma

Time to prepare for World AIDS day this coming Saturday, 1st December.  This is a day when we reflect and consider those who are infected and affected by HIV.  We remember those who have died from the pandemic over the years.  We also celebrate the achievements and work of the year for HIV.

“Know your HIV Status” – it is much better to know – to live a long and healthy life whether you are positive or negative.  Get a HIV test this week to put your mind at ease and to find out how to look after your status whatever it is.  If we all know our status we will reduce the stigma and discrimination linked with HIV – it becomes something that affects us – not them.

We are working closely with Faith Leaders and pastors from many churches and beliefs to create support and knowledge about HIV.  If you would like to be involved get in touch – we can all play a part to increase understanding.

We have these messages from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to inspire us this year.

A few dates for your diary today so that you can decide what you will do.

All these events are free and you are very welcome to come along:

National HIV Testing Week- 23rd to 30th November:

LASS are open for Rapid HIV testing everyday this week as usual – you get your result immediately. If you want to come for a test after 5pm, please phone to make an appointment.  You can also get a test at the sexual health clinic at Leicester Royal Infirmary or you may ask your GP.

Thursday 29th November:

Leicester Market stall from 9.30 to 3pm – come along and get your red ribbon.  We will have a 2 minute silence in the Market Square at 1.12pm led by Rev Jane Wood and Bishop Jonas Martinson.

Friday 30th November:

Launch of LASS 25 year history project from 5.30 – 7pm. Please contact us if you would like more information.

Saturday 1st December, 11am

“Moving from Darkness to Light” A service for World AIDS day at Leicester Cathedral. (Faith in People with HIV event)

Saturday 1st December, 7pm

LASS celebration party and music event at Y Theatre. Check our website or get in touch with LASS for tickets.  Help us make it a World AIDS Day to remember!

If you would like to get involved with the many activities we are doing with different communities and groups contact us for more information.
For more information contact Celia Fisher:

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Archbishop Tutu, LASS International Patron, gives 3 key messages for World AIDS Day

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has sent a special video message from Cape Town to mark 1st December, World AIDS Day, and the 25th Anniversary of a Leicester charity providing support for HIV positive people and HIV education and awareness across the communities.

The Archbishop, who earlier this year became International Patron of LASS (Leicestershire AIDS Support Services), has three key messages for the people of Leicester and around the world. Firstly he says that you should put your mind at ease and know your HIV status. Secondly he says that together we can all reduce the stigma about HIV. Finally he gives a special message for everyone living with HIV that ‘We thank God for the medical practitioners and researchers and carers who are seized with the task of supporting, loving and healing. We place our faith in God to maintain our spirit. And we place our trust in our medical and support services to keep our bodies well.’

Jenny Hand, CEO at LASS, says: “These messages from such a globally renowned leader will help us so much to make a difference to the lives of many people, locally and further afield. It is our 25th year and we still have so much to do to change people’s attitudes and understanding about HIV, to make it possible for people living with HIV to have lives free from stigma and discrimination. National HIV testing week is 23rd to 28th November this year – when everyone working in the field of HIV is encouraging people to get tested and know their HIV status. Archbishop Tutu’s message will provide encouragement and support to this campaign.”

LASS, HIV 25 years on …. And it won’t go away

LASS is marking its 25th anniversary with a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to create an archive and to publish a history of the organisation – “…and it won’t go away” – 25 Years of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services – based on interviews with founders, volunteers, staff, Trustees and people living with HIV from across the 25 years of its existence. “This is a ground breaking publication of national significance,” said Jenny Hand. “It charts the response of the people of Leicestershire to the arrival of HIV and AIDS and reveals the significant changes for HIV locally and nationally as well as for LASS, and people living with HIV. We hope that our publication and the work we continue to do does justice to the lives of the many people who died with AIDS in the early years.”

The book is being launched on 30 November and copies will be available to download free from the website after that date. Hard copies can be ordered from at a cost of £2.50 to cover postage and packing. (Update, it’s launched! Click here)

LASS will also be celebrating World AIDS Day with a fundraising concert at the Leicester YMCA on Saturday 1st December with four live bands including the multicultural UK dub and roots band CounterAction, Multimorph, Sleeping through Rapture and George Sandersun. More details are available here

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David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, shares his message of support for World AIDS Day 2011.

Via National AIDS Trust YouTube Channel

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There’s just one more thing before Christmas…

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.  World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

More than 90,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 33.3 million people have HIV.  More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition.  But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV.  World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

This is work we hope to achieve all year round, by supporting people on an individual basis, delivering training and educational sessions and researching best practice and speaking with colleagues in the Health and Social Care industries.

Due to increased awareness of HIV and AIDS around this time each year, you’ll see many of our staff and volunteers out and around Leicester, and Leicestershire.  Here’s what we’re doing so far, if you would like any further information, please contact a member of Sexual Health Promotion team on 0116 2559995

17th November

Rumba Day & Night – Remembering Franco at the Plush Restaurant.  Jubilee Road, Leicester

18th November

Men & Music – promoting HIV awareness at the Western Pub, Western Road, Leicester

20th November

Living with HIV talk for Medical Students by LhivE at the University of Leicester

22nd November

International Human Rights Tour at the Guildhall Museum

23rd November

Launch of HIV Prevention England’s Testing Week

26th November

World AIDS Day displays at Leicester Library

27th November

Talk at Bradgate Hostel, Leicester

29th November

Information stall at Leicester Market

30th November

Information stalls at De Montford University, & University of Leicester with Sexpression

30th November

Celebrating 25 Years of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services at New Walk Museum

1st December

World AIDS Day Celebration, party and concert at the Y Theatre, Leicester

3rd December

Just4U – HIV Awareness session for students at Robert Smyth Academy, Market Harborough

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