Monthly Archives: March 2016

Easter opening times and days out in Leicester


A very happy Easter to all of our service users, clients, volunteers and partners from all at LASS and Well for Living.  We would like to remind everyone we are closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday (25th and 28th March).  We re-open on Tuesday 29th

If you’re looking for things to do over Easter? Here’s some free events in and around Leicester we’ve gathered for your perusal.

Grossology Easter

The National Space Centre is answering the all-important question this Easter – how do astronauts keep clean in space? Join the Mission Commanders as they talk about the effect space has on the body. If you are itching for a memento, take part in the slime making workshop and develop your own Snot in a Pot.

  • Date: March 28 – April 19
  • Where: National Space Centre
  • Time: 10.00 – 17.00
  • Cost: Free

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery

The New Walk Museum and Art Gallery is offering a number of activities for family fun this Easter.

The NWMAG alone offers a number of galleries ranging from dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt. However, they are adding a number of events to their Easter calendar.

They are kicking it off with Crafty Kites where you are invited to create your own kite.

The rest of the holidays are dedicated to Springtime Magical Forest, where you will help build different parts of a magical forest – you can even collect your creations to keep at the end of the two weeks.

  • Date: 30 March – 10 April
  • Where: New Walk Museum and Art Gallery
  • Time: Museum opened Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 17.00, Sunday 11.00 – 17.00. Activity times vary
  • Cost: Museum entry free, some exhibitions and activities charges apply

Easter Children’s Day at Abbey Pumping Station

While exploring the history of Leicester’s industrial and technological heritage, keep an eye out for hidden chicks. Chocolate eggs are up for grabs if you can find them, which can be enjoyed in the picnic area.

  • Date: March 31
  • Where: Abbey Pumping Station
  • Time: 11.00 – 16.30
  • Cost: Free entry into museum, activities cost £2.50

Belgrave Hall and Gardens

Belgrave opens its doors to visitors again in April so why not bring a picnic along and take in the beauty of the surroundings? If that seems a little too tame for you, there is a Tales from the Mad Hatter session on the 1st and a picture show showing cartoons on the 8th.

  • Date: From April, every Wednesday and the first full weekend of the month
  • Where: Belgrave Hall and Gardens
  • Time: 11.00 – 16.40
  • Cost: Free admission, £2.50 for activities

Brocks Hill

Explore the country park and discover the meadow, ponds and orchard this Easter. If you are after some holiday themed activities, do not panic as Brock Hills has daily events over the period including a “craft extravaganza” and traditional egg rolling.

  • Date: March 30 – April 10
  • Where: Brock Hills
  • Time: Weekdays 10.00 – 17.00, weekends and Bank Holidays 10.00 – 16.00 (event times can vary)
  • Cost: Free
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

UK Research Project: Experiences of diagnosis & living with HIV in past 5 years.



Colleagues at Hull University have approached a number of sexual health organisations regarding a research project currently taking place at the University of Hull.

Their “Positively Different” study is exploring the experiences of young people (in the age range 18-35) who have been diagnosed with HIV in the past 5 years.

The research will explore people’s experiences of diagnosis, and living with HIV: this includes the challenges and difficulties people experience, as well as the things that help people live well with HIV.  We hope that the study will help to understand whether, as medical approaches to HIV have evolved, the lived experience of HIV has also evolved and changed.

The findings of this research should be of interest to people living with HIV, support organisations, and agencies providing health and social care, education and information.

You can take part in the research through taking part in a confidential online survey. This can be accessed at The survey includes questions about receiving a diagnosis, telling other people, whether people have received support, whether people’s feelings about living with HIV have changed over time.

In addition, people can take part in the research by taking part in an interview. The survey will be available until 30th April 2016.

The research is being carried out by Liz Walker ( and Caroline White ( at the University of Hull. They welcome the involvement of all members of the community, and are interested in hearing about people’s experiences, both positive and negative.  The research project has been approved by the relevant University of Hull Ethics Committee.

If you have any questions about any aspect of the research, please contact either of the researchers working on the study.


Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

More than two million people are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C

An estimated 2.3 million people living with HIV are co-infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) globally, a new study by the University of Bristol and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has found.

Story via University of Bristol

Of these, more than half, or 1.3 million, are people who inject drugs (PWID). The study also found that HIV-infected people are on average six times more likely than HIV-uninfected people to have HCV infection, pointing to a need to improve integrated HIV/HCV services.

HIV and HCV infections are major global public health problems, with overlapping modes of transmission and affected populations. Globally, there are 37 million people infected with HIV, and around 115 million people with chronic HCV infection. However, very little was known about the extent of HIV/HCV coinfection prior to this study, which was the first global study of its kind.

Sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the study was published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases on February 24. WHO commissioned the study to inform an update of its guidelines on screening of coinfections and initiation of antiretroviral therapy, and to inform regional and national strategies for HCV screening and management.

The study systematically reviewed 783 medical studies from worldwide sources to build the first global estimates on the prevalence of HIV/HCV co-infection (measured by HCV antibody) as a public health problem.

Dr Philippa Easterbrook, from WHO’s Global Hepatitis Programme said: “The study shows that not only are people with HIV at much higher risk of HCV infection, groups such as people who inject drugs have extremely high prevalence of HCV infection – over 80 Per cent. There is a need to scale-up routine testing to diagnose HCV infection in HIV programmes worldwide, especially among high-risk groups, as the first step towards accessing the new, highly curative HCV treatments.”

Dr Lucy Platt, lead author and senior lecturer from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said: “Despite a systematic search of published and unpublished literature, estimates were identified in only 45 per cent of countries and the study quality was variable. Improvement in the surveillance of HCV and HIV is imperative to help define the epidemiology of coinfection and inform appropriate policies for testing, prevention, care and treatment to those in need. This is especially the case in countries with growing populations of PWID and also in sub-Saharan Africa where the burden of coinfection is large due to high burden of HIV.”

Professor Peter Vickerman, from the University of Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine said: “This study shows how important injecting drug use is in driving the epidemic of HCV in people with HIV infection, especially in eastern European and central Asian countries. It also shows the need to scale up prevention interventions, such as needle and syringe programmes and opioid substitution therapy, as well as access to HIV and HCV treatment, to reduce morbidity and new infections.”

The study focusses on prevalence of HCV antibodies that measures exposure to HCV but not active infection. Measuring the presence of active virus and the need for treatment requires an additional more costly viral test, which very few of the reviewed studies had done. Around 20-30 per cent of people exposed to HCV and found positive with antibody will clear the virus.

The study shows the greatest burden of HIV/HCV coinfection in Eastern Europe and central Asia, where there are an estimated 607,700 cases (27 per cent of all cases), particularly among PWID. The sub-Saharan African region accounts for 19 per cent of all cases, with 429,600 cases, due to high burdens of HIV.

The researchers included studies with estimates of HCV coinfection in the main HIV population, as well as sub-groups of PWID, men who have sex with men, heterosexually exposed and pregnant women, other high-risk groups and the general population. Studies were eligible if they included a minimum of 50 individuals.

The search focused on published medical literature, and excluded samples drawn from populations with other comorbidities, or undergoing interventions that put them at increased risk of coinfection.

Paper: ‘Prevalence and burden of HCV co-infection in people living with HIV: a global systematic review and meta-analysis‘ by L Platt et al in The Lancet Infectious Diseases

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Nancy Reagan refused to help dying Rock Hudson get treatment for AIDS.

 President Reagan and his wife Nancy with Rock Hudson (left) at the White House in 1984, a year before he died. Photograph: Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex

President Reagan and his wife Nancy with Rock Hudson (left) at the White House in 1984, a year before he died. Photograph: Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex

Nancy Reagan refused to help Rock Hudson, one of the leading Hollywood stars of the 1950s and 1960s, as he sought treatment for Aids from a pioneering doctor in Paris, it has been revealed.

But he collapsed at the Ritz hotel, and was taken to the American hospital in the French capital. His publicist contacted the White House – the Reagans were old friends – in an attempt to speed up a transfer to a military hospital to be seen by Dr Dominique Dormant, a French army doctor who had previously treated Hudson in secret.

But the commanding officer of the Percy military hospital in Clamart initially refused to admit Hudson because he was not a French citizen. According to documents published by BuzzFeed on Wednesday, Nancy Reagan, the US first lady, declined to help.

Hudson was eventually admitted to the hospital, but died in October 1985. He was the first high-profile celebrity whose death from complications relating to the illness was openly acknowledged, and the revelation that such a big star had Aids helped to raise awareness about the disease in the US and other western countries.

Original documents from the time, obtained from the Reagan Presidential Libraryby the Mattachine Society, a gay rights group, reveal that Hudson’s US publicist, Dale Olson, sent a telegram to the Reagans at the White House pleading for help on 24 July. It stated: “Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness.”

Hudson had been denied permission to enter the hospital because he was not French, but Olson added that they believed “a request from the White House or a high American official would change [the head of the hospital’s] mind”.

It was not a request from a stranger. Hudson had been friendly with the Reagans during the president’s time in Hollywood. But when it landed on the desk of Mark Weinberg, a young Reagan staffer, Hudson’s team did not get the response they were hoping for.

A note written by Weinberg on the same day stated: “I spoke with Mrs Reagan about the attached telegram. She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the US embassy, Paris.”

Weinberg told BuzzFeed that he had immediately spoken to the first lady after receiving the telegram. “I knew the Reagans knew Rock Hudson, obviously from their years in Hollywood, and for that reason I decided to call her,” he said.

He added that he advised the first lady that they “had to be fair”, and treat Hudson the same as anyone else, and she agreed. Weinberg recommended that the White House refer the matter to the US embassy in France, because it was “probably not the [last] time we’re going to get a request like this and we want to be fair and not do anything that would appear to favour personal friends.”

He added: “The Reagans were very conscious of not making exceptions for people just because they were friends of theirs or celebrities or things of that kind … They weren’t about that. They were about treating everybody the same […] The view was, ‘Well, we’re so sorry’ – and she was, they were both very sorry for Rock’s condition and felt for him and all the people – but it just wasn’t something that the White House felt that they could do something different for him than they would do for anybody else.”

Asked about the phrase “not something the White House should get into”, he claimed that it referred to “special treatment for a friend or celebrity”. He said: “That’s all it refers to. It had nothing to do with Aids or Aids policy or … that’s a whole different issue. We weren’t talking about that.”

Weinberg added that he was aware of longstanding criticism of the Reagan administration’s response to Aids.

Gay rights campaigners point to the Reagan administration’s reluctance to accept the seriousness of Aids as a health issue and tardiness in tackling the resulting crisis in the 1980s.

By the beginning of 1985, more than 5,500 people had died from the disease but the US government had taken few significant steps toward tackling it. The administration even recommended a $10m cut in Aids spending, from $96m, in its federal budget proposal released in February 1985.

Peter Staley, a member of Act Up and founder of the Treatment Action Group, dismissed the argument that the Reagans did not want to be seen to be giving preferential treatment to a friend.

“Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favours for their Hollywood friends during their White House years,” he told BuzzFeed, pointing to the former president’s personal intervention to help a fundraising effort led by Bob Hope. “I’m sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him. There’s no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us.”

Documents show Hudson was eventually admitted to the military hospital some days after the telegram was sent to the Reagans, after intervention from the then French defence minister Charles Hernu. But Dr Dormant’s diagnosis was not optimistic.

He told the Hollywood star that the disease had progressed too far, and HPA-23 treatment would be of little use. Hudson chartered an Air France Boeing 747 at a cost of $250,000 and returned to Los Angeles, where he was taken to the UCLA Medical Center.

His death, a few months later on 2 October, may have signalled a sea change in how the disease was regarded. While he was still in Paris his team revealed the star had been diagnosed with Aids a year earlier.

For the first time he was spoken about as a gay man and he became the first high-profile celebrity to die from Aids, after openly acknowledging he had the disease. Two months before his death, a Newsweek report noted: “Among homosexuals, the news also produced some tenuous hopes. Now that Aids had struck its first celebrity, many felt, there might be a stronger push behind the quest for a successful treatment.”

President Reagan gave his first major public address on the issue on 31 May 1987, at the request of Hudson’s friend and co-star, Elizabeth Taylor.

At a dinner for the American Foundation for Aids Research, he said: “It’s also important that America not reject those who have the disease, but care for them with dignity and kindness. Final judgment is up to God; our part is to ease the suffering and to find a cure.”

By the end of 1987, more than 41,000 people had died in the US from the disease.

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

This new research rewrites the history of HIV in America


People magazine featured Gaëtan Dugas as Patient Zero. (via NIH)

If you’ve ever asked who brought AIDS to the United States, you’ve likely been told that “Patient Zero” was a man called Gaëtan Dugas.  The Canadian flight attendant was blamed for carrying the virus from Africa and spreading it around the gay community in North America.

Article via Vox Media
vox media

Immortalized in books like Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On, Dugas also became central to the narrative at the time that the disease was spread by reckless, promiscuous men who have sex with men.

Now, researchers have just come out with what is perhaps the most definitive proof that this persistent myth is wrong.

According to Science, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson — led by Michael Worobey — recently recovered near full-length genomic sequences of HIV from blood samples of Gaëtan Dugas, as well eight other gay and bisexual men taken in 1978 and 1979.

They then did incredible detective work using a technique called “molecular clock.” It allowed them to track the mutations of the virus, mapping out how HIV moved through time and place.

What they found was quite amazing: By the late 1970s, the HIV epidemic in the US “already exhibited extensive genetic diversity — particularly in New York City,” the study authors write.

So the disease wasn’t first brought to America by a 1980s flight attendant. The researchers believe that the virus leapt from Africa to the Caribbean in 1967. From there, it probably moved into the US mainland by way of New York City in 1970 and then on to San Francisco by the mid 1970s.

“Moreover,” the authors write in their abstract, “there is neither biological nor historical evidence that Patient 0 was the primary case in the US or for subtype B as a whole.” In other words, HIV was already well established in the US before Gaëtan Dugas.

The research was just presented at CROI, a big HIV/AIDS meeting in Boston, and has yet to be published. But it builds on Worobey’s already published work which has similarly found that the virus was circulating in the US by way of the Caribbean long before researchers previously believed.

Still, the Gaëtan Dugas narrative persists. HIV researcher Richard Elion noted the flight attendant has served as a scapegoat, allowing people to ignore their own risks and vulnerabilities. “It was too scary to think HIV was a general risk due to the vagaries of biology rather than a callous ‘bad guy,'” he says.

“Patient Zero became a convenient symbol for a culture ready to panic about gay men and the microbes swirling around in their bodies,” says Gregg Gonsalves, an HIV/AIDS activist and co-director of Yale’s Global Health Justice Partnership.

“Shilts created a modern day Typhoid Mary in Dugas and allowed the origin story of this new illness to feature a villain with a foreign-sounding name and an out-of-control sexuality.”

This new science should help change that.

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Diversity & Film-Making

Film Making Course Flyer 2016

Midlands based videographer and former LASS employee Rhys Davis with 10 years experience of delivering corporate and SME online and training videos, live events, short films and feature length movies is delivering two, 5 week training programmes in Diversity & Film-Making.  Rhys has a background in directing, producing, production management and camera operation.

In addition, he has taught videography to adults and children at De Montfort University, Leicester College, Phoenix Square, Regent College London and various schools. He has  two years experience writing for US television and his feature films have received cinema release and worldwide distribution.


This course is supported by the NLDC (Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities) and run by The Centre Project.  Join them for this course and learn about digital media and story telling which will include workshops and discussions.

Choose from 2nd March to 30th March or 6th APril to 11th May.  The course is limited to job seekers only.

Please contact for further information and details.