Monthly Archives: February 2016

#StopHIVCuts

stophivcuts

HIV charities from Liverpool (Sahir Trust) to Leicestershire (LASS) to London have come together with health professional bodies, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), and British HIV Association to launch a new national campaign opposing cuts to HIV services across the country -‘Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’.

Increasing numbers of local authorities are pulling funding from HIV support services.

The campaign has written to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt. calling for a meeting to discuss the impact of these cuts, demand effective commissioning, adequate funding, and access to support services for all people living with HIV.

Read more at: http://www.design-redefined.co.uk/blog/4588252234

Dear Jeremy Hunt, please #StopHIVCuts

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#StopHIVCuts have written to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt calling for a meeting to discuss the impact of significantly reduced funding for HIV support services.

Read about the #StopHIVCuts campaign here.

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to you as a group of HIV and sexual health organisations and people with HIV to share our increasing concern at the trend by local authorities across England to decommission HIV support services.

Coping with an HIV diagnosis and living with HIV long-term can be stressful and challenging, with personal relationships, long-term health, employment and finances all being significantly affected. HIV support services are an integral part of helping people deal with changes brought on by a condition that still carries with it much stigma and affects some of the most vulnerable and excluded people in our society.  They also prevent further HIV transmission by supporting people with HIV in safer sex and adherence to medication.

With over 103,000 people in the UK living with HIV in 2014, HIV support services are needed more than ever. Evidence suggests more than a third of people with diagnosed HIV need to access these vital services in any 12-month period. They are widely agreed to be an essential element in the HIV care pathway, supporting long-term condition management, by (for example) NHS, England and BHIVA.

2015, however, saw a worrying trend of local authorities across the country defunding totally HIV support services. In Oxfordshire, Bromley, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Slough, Bracknell Forest and Bexley, the local councils are set to scrap this essential provision. We understand more councils may follow – either defunding completely or cutting funding to the point where meaningful provision is impossible.

Many of the organisations affected by these cuts also provide HIV prevention for individuals at the highest risk of HIV – vital interventions that will ultimately prevent new HIV infections and save the NHS much needed cash in HIV treatment costs. The estimated cost of lifetime HIV treatment is up to £360,000 per person.  The future of such preventive work is also put in jeopardy by this disinvestment.

These funding cuts are short-sighted and ill-thought through as they will ultimately lead to extra cost pressures on health and social care as people with HIV fall into acute need and crisis, as well as significant costs to the NHS from an increase in onward HIV transmission.

Whilst of course these cuts are being made by local authorities, we strongly believe you can and should influence these decisions. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 left HIV support services without a clear commissioning home, and therefore especially vulnerable to defunding.  As a result, we risk the loss of community-based services which have been a mainstay of our HIV response since the early days of the epidemic and of which we should be very proud. A clear statement from the Government on the importance of these services and action to bring stakeholders together and agree a sustainable basis for their commissioning and provision are urgently needed.

We are asking for a meeting as soon as possible with you to discuss how we can together provide a health and social care system that works for the needs of people living with HIV.

Please correspond with Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT

[Letter Ends – Signed by #StopHIVCuts]

Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’ is also appealing to members of the public to take an e-action to show their support – write to their local council leader and ask what the council is doing to support local people living with HIV.  You can do this right now by clicking here: http://act.lifewithhiv.org.uk/lobby/stopcuts.

Will you  offer your support?

Our Partners in the #StopHIVCuts Campaign

Earlier we informed you we are uniting with other HIV services from across the UK.  HIV funding is at risk which means services you depend on could disappear.  Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Read about the ‘Support People with HIV: Stop The Cuts’ here.

Below are the websites and twitter accounts of our partners in the #StopHIVCuts campaign.  Please do take the time to read their sites and twitter feeds.

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National AIDS Trust (NAT)  @NAT_AIDS_Trust

UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV by providing fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources.

Metro @METROCharity

METRO is a leading equality and diversity charity, providing health, community and youth services across London and the South East, with national and international projects. METRO works with anyone experiencing issues around gender, sexuality, diversity, identity or equality across our five domains: Sexual & Reproductive Health, Community, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Youth and HIV.

British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) @BASHH_UK

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV is the UK’s leading professional organisation dealing with all aspects of Sexual Health Care. With over 1,000 members BASHH aims to advance public health and the education of the public, and promotes and encourages the study of STIs, HIV and other sexual health problems.

BHA @the_BHA

BHA is the health & social care charity which exists to challenge health inequalities and support individuals, families & communities to improve their health and wellbeing. They provide local HIV support and prevention services.

 

British HIV Association (BHIVA)  @BritishHIVAssoc

BHIVA is the leading UK association representing professionals in HIV care and a national advisory body on all aspects of HIV care, providing a national platform for HIV care issues.

Brigstowe Project @BrigstoweInfo

The Brigstowe Project is a front-line, responsive charity based in Bristol, providing free, confidential support, information and advice to people in and around Bristol living with or affected by HIV.

The Food Chain @TheFoodChain

The Food Chain exists to ensure people living with HIV in London can access the nutrition they need to get well, stay well and lead healthy, independent lives by delivering meals and groceries, offering cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities.

George House Trust  @GeorgeHouseTrst

The George House Trust is a HIV Voluntary organisation supporting people living with or affected by HIV in North West England. They have been providing HIV support, advice and advocacy services to improve health outcomes since 1985.

Gay Man Fighting AIDS (GMFA) @GMFA_UK

GMFA is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to gay men’s health and is the gay men’s health branch of the Health Equality and Rights Organisation (HERO) which works to reduce health inequalities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* communities.

Terrence Higgins Trust @THTorguk

UK’s leading HIV and Sexual Health Charity providing HIV support and prevention services, as well as sexual health services across England, Scotland and Wales.

Herts AID @HertsAid

Herts Aid is a Hertfordshire based HIV and Sexual Health Charity providing support to people infected or affected with HIV, as well as clinical and educational services.

LASS (Leicestershire AIDS Support Services) @LASSleics

LASS provides services for people who are living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, in partnership with other agencies, working collaboratively to raise awareness about HIV and sexual health.

 

Live HIV neutral @LiveHIVNeutral

Live HIV neutral is a working network of activists developed to integrate and coordinate activity across the UK and Ireland with the aim to eradicate HIV stigma.

LGBT Foundation @LGBTfdn

LGBT Foundation, formerly known as The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF), is a national charity delivering a wide range of services to lesbian, gay and bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities.

 

NAM AIDS Map @aidsmap

NAM works to change lives by sharing information about HIV and AIDS, providing independent, clear and accurate information, vital in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

NAZ @NazProjectLdn

NAZ offers a range of services for Black and Minority Ethnic BME communities in London to manage and maintain better sexual health. Black and Minority Ethnic BME communities in London.

National HIV Nurses Association @NHIVNA

The National HIV Nurses Association (NHIVNA) is the leading UK professional association representing nurses in HIV care committed to providing excellence in the care of those living with and affected by HIV.

Positive Action @positiveaction8

Positive Action provide emotional and practical support to individuals and families affected by HIV across Hampshire and South West Surrey and work to reduce discrimination by providing up to date information and advice to all in the community.

Positive East @PositiveEast

Positive East is an East London HIV charity offering support, advice, counselling, volunteering and free HIV tests for individuals and communities affected by HIV.

Positively UK @Positively_UK

Positively UK provides peer-led support, advocacy and information to women, men and young people living with HIV to manage any aspect of their diagnosis, care and managing life with HIV.

River House Resource Centre  @RiverHouseTrust

River House is a community based centre in west London for people who live with HIV,  providing a large and diverse range of services such as nursing advice, counselling, benefits advice, complementary therapies and educational courses, plus a meal each week day.

Sahir House @SahirHouse

Sahir House provides information, support and services to people on Merseyside living with, or affected by or at risk of HIV, and to increase knowledge and reduce stigma related to HIV and sexual health among the wider population.

Summit House Support @Summit_House

Summit House Support (SHS) aims to empower vulnerable people in Dudley and Sandwell through wrap around services in Recovery, Well-Being and LGBTQ, including those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Spectra @Spectra_London

Spectrum provides services to improve the health and wellbeing of diverse and often marginalised communities by empowering individuals to make positive, informed choices about their health and overall wellbeing.

The Sussex Beacon @sussexbeacon

The Sussex Beacon charity offers specialist care and support for men, women and families living with HIV.

Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS)  @TVPS_office

Thames Valley Positive Support is a registered sexual health charity that predominantly supports people affected by HIV, throughout Berkshire.

Waverley Care @WaverleyCare

Waverley Care is a charity providing care and support to people living with HIV or Hepatitis C throughout Scotland.

Yorkshire MESMAC @yorkshiremesmac

Yorkshire MESMAC is one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country, offering services to various communities including men who have sex with men, BME people, people misusing drugs, sex workers and LGB&T* young people and adults.

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HIV & sexual health sector unites in action against government cuts as budgets are slashed by councils #StopHIVCuts

Funding for HIV services across the UK are at risk.  Today we joined almost 30 other HIV charities to call for HIV services to be protected.  We have written to Secretary of State of Health Mr Jeremy Hunt to help protect HIV services.  Read on to find out how local HIV services are at risk.

Stop_HIV_Cuts_Infographics_2

HIV charities from Liverpool (Sahir Trust) to Leicestershire (LASS) to London have come together with health professional bodies, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), and British HIV Association to launch a new national campaign opposing cuts to HIV services across the country -‘Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’.

Jeremy_Hunt_OfficialIncreasing numbers of local authorities are pulling funding from HIV support services.
The campaign has written to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt calling for a meeting to discuss the impact of these cuts, demand effective commissioning, adequate funding, and access to support services for all people living with HIV.

HIV services in both Berkshire and Oxfordshire, run by Thames Valley Support and Terrence Higgins Trust respectively, have been cut by over £100,000 between them. In Berkshire this equates to a loss of a third of funding, and will directly affect 300 people living with HIV in both Slough and Bracknell.

Stop_HIV_Cuts_Infographics_1

In David Cameron’s back yard, Oxfordshire County Council has cut Terrence Higgins Trust’s £50,000 funding, which is forcing the closure of its local centre. The reality is that there are will be no HIV Prevention and Support service in the whole county after April 2016, with almost 500 people left with no alternative support service.

In Portsmouth the HIV support service, provided by Positive Action, has been cut by approximately £26,000 by Portsmouth City Council. Its Hampshire service has been granted an interim support payment of £30,000, less than half of the amount it historically received.

In Bexley and Bromley, equality and diversity charity, METRO is facing cuts to HIV support services of over £80,000.

Public Heath England’s national HIV figures show that in 2014 alone over 6,000 people were diagnosed with HIV, while People Living with HIV Stigma Index UK– found that stigma had prevented 15 per cent of people surveyed from accessing their GP in the last year, and 66 per cent had avoided dental care.

14 per cent had received negative comments from healthcare workers. Despite the obvious roles specialist HIV support services play in combatting this they are being reduced to almost ineffective levels, or cut completely, in a short term cash save measure.

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Alex Sparrowhawk, Involvement Officer Terrence Higgins Trust said:

“At a time when rates of HIV are increasing, stigma is as apparent as ever, we are seeing the start of an alarming trend of local authorities across the country scrapping HIV services.

“As a person living with HIV, I can tell you that HIV support services are vital to dealing with your diagnosis and managing this health condition. The national campaign is about sounding the alarm to policy makers, councils, and the public – these essential services are under serious threat and we need your help.”

Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy National Aids Trust:

“HIV remains a stigmatised and misunderstood condition. It’s not the same as other health issues where people can rely of support and sympathy from friends and colleagues.

“HIV support services can be the only place where people are open about their status, the only places they can find advice and support, the only place they can talk to other people with HIV.

“They are an essential component of the long-term care of people with HIV. To remove them would leave a lot of vulnerable people stranded.”

Dr Greg Ussher, METRO Charity CEO, said:

“People living with HIV can be some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“Proposed cuts of up to 100 per cent to HIV support services will decimate vital provision for people that cannot speak out against their local authority’s plans for fear of the stigma publicly disclosing their HIV status might bring.”

The Treasury last year announced it was cutting public health budgets in-year by £200 million with reductions in the funding for public health set to continue this year. The feasibility of the Chancellor’s plan to allow local authorities to income generate to fund social care services will be tested in poorer areas of the country – those areas that also see the highest rates of HIV.

Support people with HIV: Stop the cuts’ is also appealing to members of the public to take an e-action to show their support – write to their local council leader and ask what the council is doing to support local people living with HIV.  You can do this right now by clicking here: http://act.lifewithhiv.org.uk/lobby/stopcuts.

More information will be available on this blog and our website soon.

Will you  offer your support?

 

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‘Charlie Sheen effect’ on HIV

CSheen

Google searches for HIV hit a record high in the US in the hours after actor Charlie Sheen announced that he was HIV positive, research reveals.

Investigators found 2.75m more Google searches than expected, based on previous trends, shortly after Sheen had appeared on US TV in November.  Web searches for condoms, HIV symptoms and HIV testing also rocketed.  The researchers say the ‘Sheen effect’ should be capitalised on, to further raise HIV awareness.

Story Via BBC
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In relative terms, all HIV searches were 417 percent higher than expected on the day of Sheen’s disclosure.

Condom searches, such as “buy condoms”, increased 75%. HIV symptoms, such as “signs of HIV”, and HIV testing, such as “find HIV testing” searches increased 540% and 214%, respectively, the day of Sheen’s disclosure, and remained higher for three days.

Speaking in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, researcher Professor John Ayers, from San Diego State University, said: “While no one should be forced to reveal their HIV status and all diagnoses are tragic, Sheen’s disclosure may benefit public health by potentially helping many learn more about HIV and HIV prevention.

“More must be done to make this benefit larger and lasting.”

Back in November, Sheen, former start of sitcom Two And A Half Men, said he had gone to great lengths to keep his HIV status private.

He revealed to NBC presenter Matt Lauer that he had paid “enough to take it into the millions” to keep people from going public about his illness.

“I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths,” he said, adding he was diagnosed four years ago.

During that interview he said: “If there was one guy on this planet to contract this that’s going to deliver a cure, it’s me. It’s me. Seriously.

“I’m not going to be the poster man for this, but I will not shun away from responsibilities and opportunities that drive me to helping others.”

He’s not the first celebrity with health issues to cause a ripple effect in public behaviour.

Awareness of breast removal and reconstruction ops increased massively after Angelina Jolie’s experiences were reported in the media.

Likewise, cervical cancer screening uptake went up after reality TV star Jade Goody died from the disease.

Alex Sparrowhawk, Membership Officer of Terrence Higgins Trust said there was no question that Charlie Sheen’s forced disclosure had a huge impact, not only in the US but worldwide.

“As the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust website had its busiest day ever on 17 November, with almost 20,000 page views. The most popular covered ‘Stages of HIV infection’, ‘Getting Help Now’ and ‘What are HIV and AIDS’?

He said the “media circus” surrounding the Sheen story and the public reaction showed some attitudes were ignorant and outdated.

“There is definitely more work to be done in educating the public on HIV, but also in how the media report on HIV. It must be more widely understood as the long-term manageable health condition that it now is.”

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Moderate alcohol consumption may be more harmful for people with HIV

whiskey

Safe drinking limits for people living with HIV may need to be lower than the recommendations for the rest of the population, according to a large American study. The drinking habits and health outcomes of over 18,000 men living with HIV were compared with those of over 42,000 men who didn’t have HIV. Most participants were in their forties, fifties and sixties.  Alcohol contributes to a wide range of cancers, liver disease, stroke and heart disease.

Story via
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Looking at deaths from any cause, the researchers found a strong relationship between the amount people with HIV drank and their risk of death. After adjusting for other factors that could influence the results, men who had 30 to 70 alcoholic drinks a month (i.e. one or two a day) had a 30% higher risk of death than men who hardly drank at all. Men who drank more than this (70 or more drinks a month) had a 50% greater risk.

In contrast, only the higher level of drinking (70 or more a month) made a difference to deaths in HIV-negative men.

There were similar results when looking at results of blood tests, liver function tests and other markers of poorer health – there wasn’t any level of alcohol consumption which was ‘safe’ for men with HIV.

One limitation of the study is that it only includes data on men. Nonetheless, the greater harm caused by a unit of alcohol in women is well established. The overall findings probably apply to women, but at lower levels of alcohol consumption.

Some other studies suggest that a person living with HIV who consumes the same amount of alcohol as an HIV-negative person would have higher levels of alcohol in their blood than the person without HIV. This effect may be especially pronounced in people who aren’t taking HIV treatment.

The researchers concluded that people with HIV who drink more than 30 alcoholic drinks a month are at increased risk of health problems. This was an American study, using American standard drinks – for example, one drink is a small can of beer, a small glass of wine or a shot of whisky. No more than 30 drinks a month would amount to no more than one drink a day.

UK health authorities calculate alcohol quantities differently, but recently released advice from the Chief Medical Officer is consistent with the recommendations of the American study. One “unit” of alcohol in the UK is roughly half of a standard drink in the US. The UK government now recommends alcohol consumption below 14 units a week, which is the same as 8 American standard drinks a week – i.e. roughly one drink a day.

However very few people in the general population and even fewer people with HIV drink this little. But this is the first major study to show that there are particular advantages for people living with HIV to cut back on alcohol.

There’s more information about the UK’s official alcohol advice here.

Concerned about your or a friends drinking?

If you’re struggling alcohol abuse, you may wish to speak with ‘Dear Albert‘.

DearAlbert

Dear Albert helps individuals to stop taking alcohol (and drugs). If you would like help and information on how to address any form of addictive behaviour or substance misuse, or are looking for answers on behalf of a family member or friend / associate, please visit their site by clicking here.  Dear Albert are located in the same building as LASS.

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Fungal suppressant in birds could help against infection in those with impaired immune system.

Birds-MOTION

Scientists in Sheffield have discovered a specialised white blood cell found in birds that can destroy a fungal infection which kills more than one million people a year.

Story via
YP

Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungus that causes fatal infections in people with weakened immune systems – particularly those who have advanced HIV/Aids.

The fungus mostly infects the lungs or the central nervous system, with symptoms including a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

It is thought the fungus, carried by birds and found in their droppings, is responsible for more than one million deaths a year. Most people become infected after breathing in the microscopic spores and it is rare for healthy individuals to be affected.

But now a team at the University of Sheffield, who questioned how birds could carry the fungus and not become infected, have shown that a particular white blood cell within the bird’s blood system, called a macrophage, is able to block the growth of the fungus.

The scientists, led by Dr Simon Johnston, found that the fungus can grow slowly within a bird’s digestive tract, but if it tries to invade the bird’s body then the immune system immediately destroys it – explaining why healthy birds can still spread the infection.

Dr Johnston said: “Birds have a higher body temperature than humans, 42C instead of 37C, but this alone is not enough to fully stop the fungus.

“By studying bird cells under the microscope, we have seen that macrophage cells have the ability to completely block the growth of the fungus, which can be fatal in humans.

“Understanding where the disease comes from and how it spreads is critical. If we can learn how some animals are able to resist infection we might be able to gain insights into how we can improve the human immune response to this fungus.”

Published in Nature Scientific Reports, the work was carried out in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and forms part of a larger international effort to understand, tackle and eliminate the fungus.

Dr Johnston said his team are now working with leading scientists from all over the world to try to understand more about the pathogen’s origin and how the human body reacts to and fights it and other infections.

“Many human diseases are spread by birds, but we know surprisingly little about their immune systems. Discovering how they resist otherwise fatal infections offers the hope of improving our ability to intervene in this cycle and prevent a diverse range of human diseases,” he added.

“In addition, infectious diseases of birds themselves are a major threat to agriculture, such as when 170,000 poultry were culled due a suspected bird flu outbreak.

“Learning more about the bird immune system is an important step in developing new ways to combat such infections.”

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