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National HIV Testing Week

As the UK marks National HIV Testing Week and World AIDS day, LASS joins with De Montfort University to help reduce the number of people being diagnosed late with HIV by offering free, confidential HIV tests every day on campus at DMU and weekly, after HIV testing week on a permanent basis.

HIV is no longer a life threatening condition, the earlier it is detected the easier it is to manage and get treated- which also makes the risk of passing on the virus to others much lower.  In fact, a person living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load does not transmit the virus to their partners. 

Leicester has the highest rate of late diagnosis of HIV in the East Midlands (56.9%). The average late diagnoses rate for England is 41.1%.

LASS pledges to:

  • Making HIV testing easier to access and available in a variety of settings across Leicester and Leicestershire and in community settings
  • We want to ensuring there are a variety of ways to test for HIV, including home sampling and finger prick testing;
  • We ensuring that people diagnosed with HIV are quickly referred to the right care to improve health and prevent onward transmission
  • We work collaboratively with others to reduce the stigma that has been associated with HIV

Rusi Jaspal (Professor of Sexual Health at DMU) Said:

I am keen to help shift attitudes towards HIV testing so that people see this as a routine blood test like any other. HIV testing is key to both prevention and effective care. My own research shows that one reason people at risk of HIV do not test is the social stigma that surrounds it. By having an HIV test on camera, I wanted to challenge this stigma and demonstrate to viewers that the HIV rapid test is quick, easy and painless, which will hopefully encourage others to test during National HIV Testing Week”.

Alastair Hudson (CEO at LASS) Said:

“Within the UK we are living at one of the most exciting times in the HIV response with free open access to testing, prevention, treatment and care.  At LASS HIV testing is central to our work and we are thrilled to be working closely to support staff and students at DMU to raise awareness and support HIV prevention.  We look forward to meeting you on campus”.

Cllr Adam Clarke (Deputy City Mayor – Environment, Public Health & Health Integration and

Councillor for Aylestone) said: ‘‘We need to celebrate that medical advances mean that once you know you have HIV if you take your medication you will live as a long life as anyone else. Testing early makes this possible and we would encourage people to take the variety of free tests available across Leicester’.

HIV The Facts:

  • There are an estimated 89,400 people living with HIV in the UK
  • Of these, around 10,400 are undiagnosed so do not know they are HIV positive.
  • Late diagnosis remains a key challenge. In 2016 42% of diagnoses happened at a late stage of infection.
  • The UK has made significant progress in antiretroviral treatment coverage in recent decades. 96% of those diagnosed are now accessing treatment and 94% are virally suppressed.
  • Of the 5,164 people diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2016, 54% were gay or bisexual men.
  • Of the 2,110 heterosexual people diagnosed with HIV in 2016, 39% were black African men and women.
  • There is also evidence that awareness and knowledge around HIV is dropping in the UK. A recent survey found that only 45% of the population could correctly identify all the ways in which HIV is and isn’t transmitted.

This is why it is important to understand the facts and get tested for HIV.  Together, we can make a difference in Leicester, Leicestershire and the East Midlands.

Pop up testing clinic will be held at:
Breathing Space
DMU Chaplaincy
Portland Building
The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

GoogleMap
 
DMU Map (Building Number 29)

10:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 15:00 between Monday 19th to Thursday 22rd November 2018.

And

10:00 – 12:00 on Friday, 23rd November 2018.

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LASS AGM

We are pleased to invite you to LASS’ Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, 4th December 2018

The meeting will take place from 18:00 until 20:00 at The Michael Wood Centre, 53 Regent Road (Map / Directions).

Please RSVP to reception@lass.org.uk or please call us on 0116 255 9995 to confirm your space.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Study paves way for HIV drugs to be taken monthly rather than daily

A combination of two powerful antibodies could suppress HIV
for several months at a time, freeing patients from a daily drug regimen, a small clinical trial has found.

Story via The Telegraph

Researchers at Rockefeller University in the United States found that broadly neutralising antibodies, or bNAbs, kept the deadly virus at bay for an average of 21 weeks among participants with relatively low levels of HIV in their bloodstream. 

But while the trial was small, with 11 participants and nine responding to the treatment, the results represent the first step in the process to develop HIV drugs which do not need to be administered on a daily basis. Currently, people with HIV have to take antiretroviral (ARV) drugs on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.

“This is the first study that combines these antibodies and shows that suppression can be maintained for long periods of time,” Dr Marina Caskey, associate professor of clinical investigation at Rockefeller University, told The Telegraph

“The results are very exciting, and open up lots of possibilities to explore in this field of research.”

While ARVs work almost perfectly in the clinical trials, in the real world success is less clear cut, with patients often forgetting to take their medication or being unable to afford it.

Not only does this endanger the individual, but it also increases the chance of HIV spreading. 

The US Agency for International Development would like to see 90 per cent of people with HIV on biological suppression medication, said Dr Caskey. “But that varies hugely – in the US the average is just 50 per cent.

“If people could go from taking drugs every day to every three, four, even six months – that would make a real impact in increasing treatment rates,” she said. 

Previous studies have shown that treatment with a single bNAb can reduce levels of HIV in the blood. However, efforts to control the virus for extended periods were unsuccessful as HIV mutated and became resistant to the antibodies. 

But the new study, published in Nature Medicine, suggests that by using two antibodies resistance is avoided. If larger trials confirm the finding, the therapy could have the potential to transform HIV treatment. 

“If everything happens as planned, we would hope for our antibody therapy to be approved as a treatment in the next five years,” said Dr Caskey. 

At the moment, however, using antibodies is incredibly expensive. But analysis by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has suggested that the treatment could be cost effective  if researchers can demonstrate that one gram of antibodies can suppress HIV for a year and can be manufactured for under US$100. 

If successful, researchers hope that the antibodies could be used to prevent HIV developing, as well as treating existing cases. 

“The goal would be to take such treatment to Sub-Saharan Africa”, said Dr Caskey. “We’re optimistic, but this would be years down the line. This is just the first step.”

Community based sexual health promotion

Leicester City Council buys services to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV in order to help prevent the spread of these infections and help people remain healthy.

Community based services (like LASS, Trade and St Peters Health Centre) currently:

  • Provide safe sex advice and information within local community venues
  • Raise awareness of risky sexual behaviour
  • Provide HIV / STI testing within local communities
  • Provide 1-2-1 support for men and women regarding their sexuality or stigma
  • Promote sexual health via the most appropriate means in the way that is best for each different community (for example, outreach work, social media, etc).
  • Provide community based POCT* tests using standards and training provided by the specialist sexual health services.
  • These services are available for all but targeted at specific communities.

*Point of care testing (POCT). Community organisations will be able to undertake HIV tests in a community venue and give people their results from these tests within half an hour. This would be done under guidance and advice from the doctors and nurses in the sexual health service. If positive a full test would be undertaken by a clinical service to confirm the test.

Leicester City Council are proposing changes to the current service offered currently in Leicester and would like your views.

To access their online questionnaire, please visit this link.
https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/communications/sexual-health-services/

A ChatBot for sexual health

As part of a comic relief grant, Positive East are seeking to develop a chatbot designed to answer a range of sexual health related questions.We invite you to complete a survey at the link as a way to generate content to develop a chatbot (Karl) who will be able to answer and have dialogue around a range of different pieces of sexual health information- including PrEP.

The idea is to put all the contradictory information that is out there online into a conversational format (especially as the E-Service pushes everyone online).

Your though’s on Karl (Chat Bot) are most welcome.

Access the survey Here by clicking here

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Job Vacancy: IAG Training, Support & Outreach Worker

We are recruiting for a IAG Training, Support and Outreach Worker

  • Hours of Work:      37 Hours Per Week
  • Salary Band:            £18,000 – £22,000 (dependent upon qualifications & experience).

LASS/Well for Living are seeking an Information, Advice & Guidance Support and Outreach Worker to join our Direct Services team.  The successful candidate will hold a Level 5 qualification or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as Adult Social Care and will have knowledge of HIV issues, the need and the services available to support people affected by HIV.    In addition, the successful candidate must be able to demonstrate the following competences:

  • Ability to manage own workload, set priorities and identify opportunities in service delivery, assisting as necessary.
  • To contribute to case studies and contract outcomes on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
  • High level communication skills and ability to sensitively deal with issues effectively within groups and individuals.
  • Ability to set up and run individual and group work sessions in relation to improving life experiences.
  • Understanding the concept of wellbeing and how this impacts on everyday living in relation to people living with HIV using a range of interventions.
  • Self- supporting in reporting, administration and ICT.
  • Ability to drive and preferably the use of own vehicle.

Other responsibilities include:

Contribute to the development of a new business in Adult Social Care for our Social Enterprise; Well for Living.

Deadlines and Interview date

If you are interested in being considered for this post please complete and return the application form below and return to Tom Robson (tom@lass.org.uk) by the closing date of Friday, 27th July 2018 at 12:00 noon.  Shortlisted candidates will be advised on the afternoon of Friday, 27th July 2018.  Interviews will be held on Wednesday 1st August 2018.

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UK PrEP IMPACT trial announces 3000 new places for gay men but low uptake by women, African and transgender people

The UK PrEP impact trial has increased the number of people of trial places from 10,000 to 13,000 people. This means that clinics that were previously closed to recruitment might now have new places available.

This news was announced in the June 2018 update from the trial management board. [1]

The increase is needied to more accurately estimate the likely long term needs of a routinely commissioned PrEP programme. The increase in trial size will require resource commitments from commissioners and local authority and NHS England commissioners have supported the principle of an increase in the trial size. 

Other information in the update included:

  • More than 7000 people are currently enrolled
  • The previous goal of keeping 2000 places for people form groups other than gay men is being reduced to 1000 places. This is freeing 1000 more places for gay men, who have so far generated the highest interest and demand.
  • As of 17 May, of the 139 clinics participating in the trial, 138 are open to recruitment for gay and bisexual men. All bar one of the London clinics also remained open to recruitment. 
  • The study management will now be run by the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. this should not impact on the supply of PrEP drug to current participants or delays in enrolling new participants as this was all being managed locally by individual clinics.
  • Community involvement has included workshops to publicise the study.
  • Preparation for future commissioning arrangements is also being considered.

The next meeting of the Board will take in July. A further update on progress will be shared after that meeting.

For further information on the trial please visit the trial website. [2]

Reference

  1. UK PrEP IMPACT trial update (June 2018)
    https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/spec-services/npc-crg/blood-and-infection-group-f/f03/prep-trial-updates/#january
  2. https://www.prepimpacttrial.org.uk

Want more on PrEP? Click Here

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