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World AIDS Day 2011: LASS In The News – ITV1 Julie’s Real Story and Our Free Rapid HIV Testing Service!

We are pleased publish our local advert to promote HIV testing, in our office location in Leicester Town Centre, on Regent Road.

This advert speaks with 15 languages internationally.  This advert cost marginally and considerably less than the Governments 1987 “Tombstone” Advert.

Our message is clear, it is better to know your own HIV status and you can get a HIV test at LASS, and have the result within a minute!

Our team of volunteers have specialist training to provide a free and confidential test, we also have a fantastic support team to provide after-care and further information if required.  We also have established network links so we can refer to more specialist agencies all around Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland so you can be sure to get expert advice for your needs.

We also have a support group called LhivE, a group of people from Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland who are living with HIV.  Living with HIV brings a whole set of its own issues and LhivE demonstrate that people living with HIV can lead fulfilling and safe lives with choices.

We hope you like our new advert and hope that you’ll feel comfortable to contact us if you would like a free and confidential test.

The city of Leicester has the fastest-rising HIV rate in the east Midlands and the sixth-highest in the country.

Meanwhile, in 2009/10, national research demonstrated that community testing was effective in delivering tests to those at risk, preventing late diagnosis and thereby reducing onward transmission. As there was no such community testing service in Leicester, we set about creating one!

It is the training of our volunteers which makes the project unique as a method of engaging with specific African communities which are considered to have a high need.  As well as delivering courses to train volunteers to carry out tests among Zimbabwean and Congolese community groups, we also provide a safe and confidential place for people to receive a test.

Our volunteers have created a 50-second advert promoting the value of knowing your HIV status in 15 languages.

We have delivered more than 400 tests, more than half of which are to the BME communities in the region.  While the first phase of the project involved delivering tests only from our building, funding has ensured  we can use our van to take testing to more venues across Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland.

We were delighted to be highly commended by the Charity Awards, the UK charity sector’s most prestigious awards scheme earlier this year, after being short-listed in the Healthcare & Medical Research category.   This means we have been judged to be of the best 32 Charities in the whole country. Our sincere thanks go to all our service users, volunteers, staff and people in partner organisations who are the real reason we have achieved such a magnificent accolade. Community based HIV testing and our advertisement for this service were the basis of for our application.

WIDESPREAD TESTING IS URGENTLY NEEDED – Health Protection Agency.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) predicts that unless more focus is given to HIV prevention and routine testing, more people could become infected.

It is 30 years since the first case of HIV was formally diagnosed, and since then there have been several major breakthroughs in medical treatment resulting in longer life expectancy for those infected by the virus.

But some medical experts now believe because of the success of anti viral drugs in prolonging the lives of carriers, it has led to complacency.

HPA figures show that in the last three decades 115,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in the UK alone, with 27,000 people having gone on to develop full-blown Aids – and 20,000 of those having since died.

We need a complete and wholesome approach to treating HIV and most importantly help prevent its spread – Dr Rupert Whitaker, a long-standing HIV survivor

But what is worrying the medical profession and campaign pressure groups is that, despite all the medical advances over the last three decades, the number of HIV cases in the UK is expected to rise next year to 100,000 and some of those cases will be people who do not yet realise they have been infected by the virus.

Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, believes widespread testing is urgently needed to help get new cases diagnosed.

“It is so crucial when treating someone who is HIV positive as quickly as possible. That way their lives can be prolonged considerably,” she said.

“Provided someone is tested within the early stages of infection, so they have only had HIV for a short time, and they receive effective medication followed up by effective therapy, then their life expectancy is very good.

“In fact we can safely say HIV is no longer a life threatening illness but a chronic life long condition which if treated correctly can mean people can live to their normal life expectancy.”

LASS are registered for JustTextGiving which enables supporters to make donations of up to £10 by text message.

It’s easy to donate to LASS, and it takes no time at all, simply text: “LASS25 £10″ to 70070.  (You can change the amount of your donation to: £1, £2, £3, £4 or £5 if you prefer) and you’ll receive a text message receipt, and the chance to add Gift Aid by text or in web form.  More details are available from this link.

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Vote for Pozitude! The Website by Children Living With HIV

There are lots of websites out there which can give you help, advice and knowledge about HIV, and Pozitude stands out from the crowd.. read on to hear all about it and what YOU can do help them win an award for harnessing technology to bring about positive social change.

Pozitude is a website set up by a group of children who are living with HIV and they offer more than a simple website.  They offer a special place where the clock stops and you can navigate your way without running out of time.  Young people and parents alike can use this space as a good place to find out about HIV and what it’s like to live with HIV.

Some people still don’t have access to clear, easy to understand information about HIV so Pozitude decided to put together all sorts of information.

Sponsored by The Big Lottery, they asked for help from doctors, nurses, and other people who know about HIV and they hope that you will suggest anything that you might think would help a young person finding out they are HIV positive.

Visit whenever you like, learn about the facts, the fantasies, the realities and the myths about living with HIV. Ask questions and share ideas, come and find friends, but most important keep a positive attitude about your journey ahead.

Michelle Overton is a project manager at Pozitude, and she’s been nominated for Talk Talk’s Digital Heroes Award.  Babita Wakelin, who nominated Michelle  said, “Michelle is inspirational, but the kids using Pozitude are also truly Digital Heroes!” Pozitude says that the grant would enable it to update its websites and digital offerings as well as to develop a Facebook application that will help reduce the stigma associated with HIV.

Pozitude would also like to develop a smartphone application that will help young people who have moved away from home remember to take their medication at their set times.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards is an awards and funding scheme with a difference: it is the UK’s only scheme which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, with Citizens Online and in association with The Mirror – and supported by Race Online 2012 – offers people a chance to win funding for a new or existing digital project.

If Pozitude wins the Digital Heroes competition, they can win a prize of £5,000 and if they win the East Midlands regional contest, they will be entered into a national final and could win £10,000 so what are you waiting for?

They answer questions such as “Is HIV The Same As AIDS“? “Who to Tell“? along with practical information like healthy eating (with recipes) and issues such as employment and faith.

They even have a section for parents and professionals which offer help and support for talking to children about HIV and the impacts it can have on life.

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services are voting for them, and we hope you do too! So visit Talk Talk’s Digital Hereo’s website and vote for Michelle Overton

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September Round Up

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re subscribed or receiving this news via Twitter but just in case you’re a casual browser why not stay a while, subscribe or follow us and read up on LASS and HIV/STI updates.  Here’s a brief roundup from last month’s posts

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GOVERNMENT & UK

A House of Lords Select Committee published a damning report on HIV in the UK, warning that the current priority given to HIV and Aids treatment by policy makers is ‘woefully inadequate’, and revealing that over 100,000 people in the UK will be living with the disease by next year. The Lords Select Committee on HIV and Aids in the UK also warned that the total cost of treatment would soon top £1 billion per year, and called for all new patients at GPs’ surgeries to be tested for the illness on an opt-out basis.

The Government announced last month that the rules on gay men donating blood will change from a lifetime ban to a 12 month deferral period.  This decision follows a review of the current policies around exclusion and deferral from blood donation by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Employing sport to communicate HIV messages isn’t new, but one initiative aims to go further – imparting skills for planning, evaluating and funding a football-based HIV campaign
Follow LASSleics on TwitterSCIENCE

Scientists in the US have developed a strain of green-glowing cats with cells that resist infection from a virus that causes feline AIDS, a finding that may help prevent the disease in cats and advance AIDS research in people.

Raising the CD4 cell threshold for the initiation of antiretroviral therapy to 500 cells/mm3 would mean that almost 50% of patients would need to start HIV treatment within a year of their infection with HIV, investigators from an international study of seroconverters report in the October 15th edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Scientists spent a decade trying—and failing—to map the structure of an enzyme that could help solve a crucial part of the AIDS puzzle. It took online gamers all of three weeks.

Spanish researchers have completed the first human trial of a new vaccine against HIV. It has been successful in 90% of the HIV-free volunteers during phase I testing. This vaccine brings great hope to eradicate HIV forever.
Follow LASSleics on TwitterINTERNATIONAL

The Zimbabwe government says it is considering drastic measures of door-to-door HIV testing campaigns for every citizen in the country in a move to try and eliminate new HIV infections.

Linkage to facility-based HIV care from a mobile testing unit is feasible, South African researchers report in the advance online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.  In a stratified random sample of 192 newly diagnosed individuals who had received CD4 test results, linkage to care was best among those who were ART eligible, Darshini Govindasamy and colleagues found.

The David Kato Vision & Voice Award will be presented annually, on Human Rights Day (10th December), to an individual who demonstrates courage and outstanding leadership in advocating for the sexual rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, particuarly in enviroments where these uinduvidual face continued rejection, marginalization, isolation and persecution.  David Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda was one of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activists until January, when he was murdered in his home weeks after winning a court victory over a tabloid that called for homosexuals to be killed.  Read more about it here.
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Each month, a registered dietician from the NHS, visits LASS to offer helpful advice and information on food nutrition and healthy eating for people who live with HIV.  Our next session “The Truth About Fats” will be on Friday, 16th September 2011 from 12:00pm.  This is an opportunity to ask questions and speak with the dietitian directly about any concerns you may have.

Well done to TRADE Sexual Health after a very successful Gay Pride.  This year’s Leicester Gay Pride saw Trade Sexual Health join forces yet again with the Leicester GUM Clinic to present the Health & Wellbeing Marquee 2011!

  • Excellent strategy, well communicated.
  • Excellent and trusted leadership.
  • Excellent coaching and mentoring across the organisation.

These are just three of the positive statements used to describe Leicestershire AIDS Support Services by Investors in People after our recent assessment.  We are proud to announce that we are now officially recognised as an investor in people organisation.

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LASS – An Investors in People Organisation


  • Excellent strategy, well communicated.
  • Excellent and trusted leadership.
  • Excellent coaching and mentoring across the organisation.

These are just three of the positive statements used to describe Leicestershire AIDS Support Services by Investors in People after our recent assessment.  We are proud to announce that we are now officially recognised as an investor in people organisation.

Three years ago, LASS underwent a diagnostic review against the Investors in People Standard. The findings have been used to help shape a series of changes in support of a strategic review, implemented by our Chief Executive Officer, Jenny Hand.

The revised strategy has made a significant difference to LASS, both in direction and culturally.  Work has been done to create robust performance measures and to improve communications.  As a result there is clear understanding amongst staff and volunteers of the strategic direction of LASS and there is close co-operation and support between departments.

Within the past three years, we have also set up Well For Living, a Social Enterprise in order to expand beyond our current boundaries and to generate income that is not dependent on Government or local authority funding streams.

In order to achieve Investors in People accreditation, LASS was required to meet 39 mandatory evidence requirements which we did and three more in addition.

We are committed to Investors in People because people are at the heart of everything that we do, our success depends on employees, volunteers, service users and members alike.  We chose Investors in People because the framework for accreditation is focused on engagement with people, training and development, and communication.

We are keen to maintain a high standard of work and ensure our employees and volunteers continually work toward professional development.  Investors in People have national credibility and their revised standard really reflects the needs of a charity such as LASS.

During the last three years the changes to the organisation have meant a significant investment in people development. Our strategy has laid down a clear direction and focus for us and, with the training and development, has enabled staff and volunteers to be confident in influencing how our services are delivered.  For example In 2009 LASS successfully introduced a rapid HIV testing programme that can be administered confidentially on site at The Michael Wood Centre, or via our mobile testing which is taken out to communities.

Many of our staff and volunteers are involved in helping people rebuild their lives once they have been diagnosed as HIV positive. This requires a great deal of positive thinking and encouragement and the same skills are utilised in supporting each other.

We have become a top performing voluntary organisation and were recently shortlisted for “National Charity of the Year 2011” competing against large national charities.  We were recognised by the Charities Aid Foundation as:
“One of the best charities in the Country; a small charity punching well above its weight.”

Investment in staff and volunteer development has been a crucial factor in helping the organisation become so successful. We still have to resolve difficulties in getting to those `hard to reach` areas, but we are very creative and recently held a football tournament where we were able to provide rapid HIV tests to people who would not normally come forward for testing.

Our volunteers have also created an advert promoting the value of knowing your HIV status and this informs the audience using 15 languages.  It’s this work that got us nominated to the Charity Awards this year and a lasting “Highly Commended” status from them.  We always look for opportunities to improve, and welcome ideas and feedback.

Investors in People is an assessment to good standards and working practice.  We believe we can continue to “punch above our weight” and we welcome the opportunity to do so, right now and in the future.

We thank our many volunteers, service users and partner organisations who had a part to play in ensuring we continually improve and perform well.

The Charity Awards: LASS Are Highly Commended

We are delighted to be highly commended in the Charity Awards. This means we have been judged to be one of the best 32 Charities in the whole country. Our sincere thanks go to all our service users, volunteers, staff and people in partner organisations who are the real reason we have achieved such a magnificent accolade. Community based HIV testing and our advertisement for this service were the basis of for our application. We hope that many of you will join us at a party to celebrate on 25th June. (Details Here)

Congratulations on being Highly Commended at last nights Charity Awards. I attach here a ‘Highly Commended’ hallmark which you can use on your website and in any other marketing materials as you wish.

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Celebrate Our Charity Awards Nomination On Saturday, 25th June

We are extremely pleased to have been short-listed for a national Charity Award for our valuable work with community testing.  The nomination means we have been judged to be one of the top 32 charities in the country. Our thanks go to all the people living with HIV and our friends, volunteers, partner organisations and staff who have contributed so much to this achievement.

We would like to invite you and your family, close friends or colleagues to join us to celebrate with music, dance and light buffet on Saturday 25 June from 19:30 to 23:00 at Fabrika, Humberstone Gate, Leicester.

To assist with catering please telephone 0116 2559995 or e-mail reception@lass.org.uk to let us know if you are able to join us, and the names of any guests you will bring.

We need your response by Monday 20th June, and look forward to celebrating with you and thank you for your support.

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This Is Why LASS Has Been Nominated For The Charity Awards!

The city of Leicester has the fastest-rising HIV rate in the east Midlands and the sixth-highest in the country.

Meanwhile, in 2009/10, national research demonstrated that community testing was effective in delivering tests to those at risk, preventing late diagnosis and thereby reducing onward transmission. As there was no such community testing service in Leicester, we set about creating one!

It is the training of our volunteers which makes the project unique as a method of engaging with specific African communities which are considered to have a high need.  As well as delivering courses to train volunteers to carry out tests among Zimbabwean and Congolese community groups, we also provide a safe and confidential place for people to receive a test.

Our volunteers have created a 50-second advert promoting the value of knowing your HIV status in 15 languages.

We have delivered more than 400 tests, more than half of which are to the BME communities in the region.  While the first phase of the project involved delivering tests only from our building, funding has ensured  we can use our van to take testing to more venues across Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland.

We have been nominated for a major national prize at the UK charity sector’s most prestigious awards scheme, The Charity Awards.  Shortlisted in the Healthcare & Medical Research category, we are hoping to pick up the coveted award at an awards ceremony taking place right now in London and attended by personalities including comedian Hugh Dennis, author Monica Ali, star of Strictly Come Dancing Bruno Tonioli and newsreaders Krishnan Guru Murthy and Andrea Catherwood.

Winning an award is cause for celebration, and we believe that even being nominated is reason to celebrate so stay tuned for details of our celebration party!

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