Monthly Archives: October 2016

Norway provides #PrEP for free! Well done Norway!


Yes, you did read that headline correct! – While our NHS is arguing why it shouldn’t be providing, cost effective, life saving and game changing anti-HIV medicine, Norway has become the first country in the world to offer at-risk citizens the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug at no cost, as part of its National Health Service.

Norway joins Canada, France, South Africa, and the United States in offering the HIV prevention drug, although Norway is currently the only country to distribute it for free.

Multiple studies have found PrEP to be highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. One study found people could reduce their infection risk by 92-99% depending on how many pills they take per week.

Norway’s government lobbied for the last two years to bring PrEP to those who face an increased risk of contracting HIV — gay and bisexual men and trans women.

“PrEP will contribute to reducing the rate of new infections in the gay community, as gay men are facing a risk of infection much higher than the general population,” Leif-Ove Hansen, the president of HIV Norway, said in a statement, New Now Next reports.

An estimated 2.1 million people around the world were newly infected with HIV in 2015, bringing the current total to approximately 36.7 million people.

While many of the HIV management drugs now allow people living with the condition to enjoy a similar quality of life to healthy populations, prevention is still the cheaper and safer option.

In other countries where PrEP is available, prices for users can range. In the US, many insurance companies cover most of the cost so that patients are only responsible for the co-pay.  In France, the drug is reimbursable once patients submit a receipt.

But Norway is the first to offer the drug to patients without any cost whatsoever.

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Diverse Community Cancer Connect Event


A free event to network, learn and share: including speakers, information and a free hot buffet lunch. – Open to all


  • Sunday 6th November 2016
  • 11am—3pm


The Riverside Football Ground
Home to GNG FC and Leicester City Women FC
44 Braunstone Lane East
Leicester, LE3 2FW (Map)

For further details or to book please contact Courtney on 0116 223 0055
or email

The Next Generation of PrEP is here.


New pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs that offer protection against HIV infection, including bimonthly injections, are in the works, but they will not be available before 2020, and they are not without their shortcomings, experts said at the Controlling the HIV Epidemic With Antiretrovirals Summit 2016 in Geneva.

Article via Medscape

The combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil (Truvada, Gilead Sciences) remains the gold standard, and uptake should be encouraged to slow the spread of HIV, said Karen Hoover, MD, from the division of HIV/AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC).

“It is overwhelmingly effective in demonstration projects,” she told Medscape Medical News. If it’s taken every day, protection against HIV infection is “nearly perfect.” Even when it is taken only four times a week, “we’ve seen that it has 90% efficacy.”

But the combination is not without adverse effects, including a mild decrease in kidney function and a small decrease in bone marrow density. When patients stop taking the drug, though, bone marrow density returns to normal. However, Dr Hoover pointed out, “the importance of these side effects is still unknown in adolescents and young people.”

One size does not fit all.

Although the combination is relatively safe, the daily dosing regimen can cause problems with adherence, especially for young people. “It would be nice to have another choice. One size does not fit all,” she pointed out. “Some people would do well with an injectable option.”

In fact, several second-generation PrEP drugs are in development and several clinical trials are underway, Dr Hoover reported.

Next-Generation PrEP

Cabotegravir, a long-acting injectable from ViiV Healthcare, showed promise in the phase 2a ÉCLAIR study, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

The dosing regimen for cabotegravir — an injection once every 2 months — virtually eliminates problems related to adherence.

“Injectable PrEP might help those who have trouble taking a daily pill, but it’s not a panacea,” Dr Hoover acknowledged.

Before starting the injections, patients need to take an oral version of cabotegravir to see if any toxicity issues arise, and it usually takes a month of oral daily doses before the patient is fully protected against HIV.

And when a patient stops getting the injections, other problems can arise, she reported.

“This long-acting version stays in the body for weeks, maybe even a year. If a person has insufficient protection with low but inadequate treatment, they can become resistant. So if they stop, they need to take oral medication,” she explained.

Another drug that has shown promise is tenofovir alafenamide, according to Dr Hoover. This prodrug delivers tenofovir diphosphate, the active agent, more efficiently to cells infected with HIV.

Because tenofovir alafenamide is potent, a patient can take a 25 mg dose instead of a 300 mg dose of Truvada, she explained. “That means a lot less renal toxicity and fewer side effects. I look forward to seeing the phase 3 trial results.”

VRC01, a broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibody to HIV, is a new type of drug being studied as both PrEP and treatment. The antibody is currently in phase 1 studies with intravenous and subcutaneous dosing, and there is hope that the research could lead to a vaccine.

Still, said Dr Hoover, none of these trials will be completed until 2020, and time will then be required for regulatory approval and marketing.

At best, it will be 4 or 5 years before they are available. “We have a safe drug — that’s Truvada. What we need now is to do a better job of implementing PrEP,” she said.

A Matter of Supply and Demand

In the United States, a better response to both supply and demand is needed for PrEP, said Dr Hoover.

“On the demand side, we need to really help patients understand what it is, how it works, and whether it would be appropriate for them. We need to help them find doctors they can talk to about PrEP,” she explained.

In some communities in the United States, awareness of PrEP is still relatively low. One recent study showed that only 40.5% of 622 young black men who have sex with men and who live on the south side of Chicago reported knowing about PrEP, and only 12.1% knew someone who had used PrEP (JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176:136-138).

On the supply side, physicians who provide PrEP care need better support, said Dr Hoover.

A clinical hotline, supported by the CDC and other organizations, offers up-to-date clinical consultation to help healthcare providers learn about PrEP.

“We get all kinds of clinicians calling, from primary care to subspecialists in various fields,” said Ronald Goldschmidt, MD, director of the Clinician Consultation Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

Physicians call for many reasons, including to double-check that a patient is a good candidate for PrEP, to determine whether it is appropriate to give, and to find out what the dosing should be.

“Most of the time, we tell them that if there’s any ongoing risk of contracting HIV — especially if the person has risky sex with multiple partners or is an injection drug user — the benefits of PrEP are certainly something the physician should offer,” said Dr Goldschmidt.

“There is also certain testing that has to be done before and during PrEP therapy. Sometimes physicians just want to make sure they have the testing protocols correct,” he told Medscape Medical News.

“Often it’s a question about whether to use PEP [postexposure prophylaxis] or PrEP,” he added. PEP is used to treat patients who have been exposed to the virus in the previous few hours or days. PrEP, in contrast, takes a month to become effective.

“PrEP is never an emergency; PEP is,” Dr Goldschmidt explained. “However, we answer quite promptly for PREP calls.”


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My HIV, My Rules, My Journey…


Panti Bliss, aka Rory O’Niell. Photograph by Conor Horgan

Gilead, together with Positively UK, George House Trust and The Sussex Beacon have come together in a hilarious new video about owning your own  ‘HIV Adventure’

The core message of the new campaign  is that many people living with HIV today are crucial in the role of helping health and care providers better understand HIV, how it impacts day to day life and how to treat it.

We love the video which features Panti Bliss take control of her HIV and go on a journey to long-term health and well-being but it doesn’t stop there.

Their website offers practical information, things to consider and questions you can direct to your health care team, covering sexual and nonsexual health, finance, mental health and confidence building among others.

There are a number of ways that people living with HIV can get involved in decisions about HIV treatment and care services in their local area or even at a national level. Some of these involve contributing to local organisations that decide how resources are allocated or how local services are conducted.  Be sure to keep HIV high on the public agenda by joining in.

For more information about the brilliant campaign, visit : for more information.


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Hospitals & GP practices fail to test for HIV

HIV test

Some hospitals and GP practices in England and Scotland are failing to carry out recommended HIV checks, a BBC investigation has found.

(Story via The BBC)

Experts suggest patients in areas with high rates of HIV ought to be offered a test when they register with a GP or are admitted to hospital.  But research carried out for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme suggests many NHS providers are not doing this.  Health officials said the prevention of HIV infection remained a priority.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently reviewing its guidance on HIV testing and is due to release its findings in December. Its existing guidance – last updated in 2011 – says GPs and hospitals in high-risk areas should “consider” testing new patients.

Test and treat

In 2013, the British HIV Association circulated UK-wide guidance that said in high-prevalence areas (where there are two or more people in every 1,000 diagnosed with the virus) all men and women should be offered an HIV test on registration with their GP or when they are admitted to a medical unit in hospital.

This was issued in partnership with organisations including The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV,

Official figures show:

  • Out of 152 local authorities responsible for public health in England, 54 are classed as high-prevalence areas
  • In Scotland, two out of 14 NHS boards count as high-prevalence areas
  • There are none in Wales or Northern Ireland

An investigation by BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme found that 82% of hospitals in high-prevalence areas in England were not offering HIV tests in accordance with the guidelines and 70% of local authorities in high prevalence areas in England do not fund all GP surgeries to test patients.

Neither of the two NHS boards in Scotland routinely offers the checks.

In England, local authorities are responsible for funding population based HIV testing in this way.  HIV experts say this could be causing avoidable deaths.  People who are not yet diagnosed risk passing HIV to partners if they are unaware of their status and they will not be receiving HIV drugs to manage their condition.

Dr Chloe Orkin, from the British HIV Association, said: “Testing for HIV is very cost-effective.  Deaths due to late diagnosis are completely preventable through excellent treatments.”

More than 100,000 people live with HIV in the UK, according to figures from Public Health England.  Of these, an estimated 17% are undiagnosed and unaware of their infection.

Barriers to testing

Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, councillor Izzi Seccombe, said councils were commissioning HIV testing in a variety of settings, not just in GP surgeries or hospitals.

“In some areas, it may be more appropriate to reach out to people by providing tests in the community or at sexual health clinics,” she said.

But she was concerned that cuts to public health funding might affect such services.

The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) urged local authorities to work with local providers to meet best practice guidelines around routine HIV testing outside sexual health services.

A Department of Health representative for England said: “Over the next five years, we will invest more than £16bn in local government public health services.

“While councils have had to make savings, they have also shown that good results can be achieved at the same time, and are best placed to understand where money is best spent”.

Scotland’s Public Health Minister, Aileen Campbell, said:”Prevention of HIV infection remains a priority for the Scottish government, and we continue to provide funding for boards for prevention work.

“The BHIVA guidelines are good practice, and we would expect boards to take them into account while developing their local strategies.”

Have you ever had a HIV Test? – Read here why it’s a good idea and where you can get tested for HIV.

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Why we shouldn’t be scared of ‘The Test’

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14:  Prince Harry has blood taken by Specialist Psychotherapist Robert Palmer as he takes an HIV test during a visit to Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic on July 14, 2016 in London, England. Prince Harry was visiting the clinic, run by Guy's and St Thomas NHS Foundation to promote the importance of getting tested for HIV and other STDs.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Prince Harry takes a HIV test during a visit to Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic.  Prince Harry was visiting the clinic to promote the importance of getting tested for HIV.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images).  Click here to read about Harry’s fight against HIV and his mother, Princess Diana’s Visit to LASS in November 1991. 

Some people think taking a HIV test is scary, but honestly it shouldn’t be. The condition is entirely manageable.  If you test positive, early detection, monitoring and effective treatment means that your life can largely carry on as before.

Incredible medical progress has been made in the last 20 years and HIV treatment is now very effective. If you are diagnosed with HIV before it has damaged your body and you are put on effective treatment, you can expect to live as long as anyone else.

HIV treatment aims to lower the amount of HIV in the body to undetectable levels. Global research, known as the PARTNER study, has found that HIV cannot be passed on when the virus is undetectable. In other words, if someone is on effective HIV treatment, it is extremely unlikely that he or she will pass on HIV to anyone else.

This is a massive breakthrough. It means that if everyone with HIV were on effective treatment, we could finally stop the spread of HIV. Until then, it is essential to use condoms to protect yourself.

For some people the idea of being tested for HIV is as simple as making a note in a calendar, an entry which sits comfortably beneath a dentist appointment and above a mother’s birthday. For others, the idea of making that appointment, or taking that long walk to the clinic, is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences they can imagine. However, in an age where the numbers of people diagnosed with HIV are increasing, has our natural fear of the unknown become a luxury we simply can’t afford?

Many years ago it was a scary disease. We called it AIDS and it became a name associated with sin and death. The massive number of infections, particularly in the gay community, were staggering, and as the death toll slowly crept up, nations across the world panicked. It’s impossible for any society to come through such a dark time and emerge unscathed, and so the fear of a silent killer left a scar on our cultural memory which has never really healed, and even in 2016, the mere mention of HIV and AIDS still has a way of stopping conversations.

Thankfully, things have changed since then and treatment for HIV is better now than it has ever been. People who have the condition are now finding that their lives have not changed completely, and they are still able to live as long and do all the same things they could before. It’s true that they now have a few additional concerns to think about but with the help of medication, HIV is now manageable.

HIV is no longer the death sentence it used to be and people are able to live, healthy and happy lives like they did before. However, this is thanks to the amazing progress we have made in treating the condition and we can only begin to do that when we make the decision to get tested and keep on top of our health. Late HIV diagnosis in Leicester is 13.8% higher than the average for England.  It’s a scary prospect to some and no one takes that for granted, but by taking the chance to be tested, you could be buying yourself years of life.


Our Rapid HIV testing service is available Monday-Friday between 9am – 4pm.  You do not need an appointment.

The test is performed at our office on Regent Road, Leicester by qualified and experienced HIV testers.  The process usually takes around 20 minutes.  If you’re unsure, or would like to speak to someone about HIV Testing, please call us on 0116 2559995 or pop in and see us.

The test is free to ‘at risk groups’ and always confidential.  If you’re not at risk, we can refer you to an alternative service who will be able to provide you with a free HIV test.  You can still test with us for £20 or you may prefer a free Home Sampling kit or buy a Home Testing kit from BioSure for £29.95.

Other places which can test for HIV

SHACC (Sexual Health and Contraceptive Clinic) in Leicester.  They offer information, advice and screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) as well as HIV in GP settings.  For more information or to book an appointment Phone 0800 75 66 277 or visit

St Peters GU Medicine Clinic provide Free, confidential services including STI testing including HIV tests along with A full range of contraception including Post Exposure HIV Prophylaxis – PEP/PEPSE Tel: 0300 124 0102 or 0800 318 908 or visit them online at

Trade Sexual Health offers a rapid HIV testing service for LGB&T individuals.  Contact them on 0116 2541747 or for more information.

There are lots of places where you can get a HIV test if you’re unable to use services in Leicester or Leicestershire.  Visit NAM, they have an online portal which can help you find a service in your area.

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Annual General Meeting 2016


LASS AGM: This thursday (13/10/16)

  • Refreshments at  6:30pm
  • Meeting Duration: 7pm – 8:00pm
  • Location: Leicester LGBT Centre: 15 Wellington Street, Leicester, LE1 6HH (Click here for a map and directions)

This is a public meeting, everyone is welcome! We look forward to seeing you there!


  • Introduction & Welcome
  • Celebration of Archbishop D. Tutu’s 85th Birthday
  • Highlights: International AIDS Conference (Durban ’16)
  • Apologies
  • Minutes of previous AGM (8th October 2015)
  • Board of Trustees vacancies and elections
  • Chair’s Report and constitution
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Adoption of accounts
  • Appointment of Auditors
  • Date of next meeting
  • Celebrating LASS’s work and the lives of people with HIV

The AGM (Annual General Meeting) is a public meeting where LASS Trustees report back on the management & finances of the organisation for the previous year. Trustees are elected & re-elected for the forthcoming year and members have the opportunity to put questions to the board & vote on decisions and for Trustees.  It’s also a great opportunity to meet our staff and volunteer workforce. This year members are voting on incorporation.

Please call us on 0116 2559995 to register your space if you are coming along.

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