Tag Archives: hiv status

National HIV Testing Week

National HIV Testing Week is a targeted, high profile, national campaign that encourages England’s key populations most affected by HIV to consider taking an HIV test. These groups include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and African people. HIV Prevention England organises National HIV Testing Week and LASS are proud to offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test.  National HIV Testing Week is between 22-30 November 2014, however we offer HIV tests all year round.

Leicester is one of the most diverse cities in the UK and the largest in the East Midlands with only half the population describing themselves as ‘White British’.

Alongside English, around 70 languages and/or dialects are spoken in the city. In addition to English, eight languages are commonly spoken: Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and Polish.

With continuing migration into the city, new languages and dialects from Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe are also being spoken.

This is why our advert speaks in 15 international languages and our message is clear! It is better to know your own HIV status and it’s so easy to get a HIV test at LASS, you’ll 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 “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 advert and hope that you’ll feel comfortable to contact us if you would like a free and confidential test. Please visit: lass.org.uk for further information.

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Video Games, Social Networks May Help Prevent HIV


Digital outreach efforts delivered via text messages, interactive games, chat rooms, and social networks may be an effective way to prevent the spread of HIV, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found that eHealth interventions are associated with reductions in risky sexual behaviors and increases in HIV testing among men who have sex with men.

Despite decades of outreach and education efforts that have stabilized human immunodeficiency (HIV) infection rates in the United States, the pace of new infections among men who have sex with men has been steadily increasing, particularly among young adults and racial and ethnic minorities.

“This is a population that is very used to technology, and there is built-in privacy and immediacy with digital communication that may be especially appealing to men who aren’t comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or their HIV status in a face-to-face encounter,” said Rebecca Schnall, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Columbia Nursing. “If we want to reduce HIV infection rates, particularly among younger men, we need to explore the use of technology to meet them where they live – online and on their phones.”

For the study, researchers conducted a systematic literature review to determine the effectiveness of eHealth interventions for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men. Included studies had to be focused exclusively on eHealth, limited to HIV prevention and testing rather than treatment, targeted only to adult men who have sex with men, written in English, designed as experimental or randomized controlled trials, and published between January 2000 and April.

Researchers found that one interactive website, Sexpulse, designed by health professionals and computer scientists to target men who seek sexual partners online, successfully reduced high-risk sexual behaviors. Another site, Keep It Up! (KIU), used video games to help reduce rates of unprotected anal sex. A third initiative, a downloadable video game, helped mitigate shame felt by some young men who have sex with men, though the reduction in risky sexual behavior wasn’t statistically significant.

Researchers found that Chat rooms may also help prevent HIV. When a sexual health expert entered a popular chat room to regularly post information about HIV testing and respond to instant messages seeking information on HIV, self-reported HIV testing among participants in the chat room significantly increased.

“Taken together, the findings from all of these relatively small studies demonstrate the enormous potential of eHealth as a tool to prevent HIV,” Schnall said. “What we now have is a road map to follow for larger, longer trials that may definitely confirm the effectiveness of eHealth in fighting the spread of HIV.”

Post via University Herald

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Op-ed: The Case for a Rapid Home HIV Test

A rapid/oral HIV test for home use, currently under consideration by an FDA advisory committee, has the potential to reach a far greater number of individuals who want to know their HIV status on their own terms, writes Tom Donohue, founding director of the group Who’s Positive.

On May 15, the Blood Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will discuss whether to approve a take-home, oral HIV test that could revolutionize the way we think about testing. It has the potential to reach a far greater number of individuals who want to know their HIV status on their own terms.

This type of rapid, take-home test doesn’t come without debate between HIV testing counselors and those who support at-home testing. But in order to become the generation that ends HIV/AIDS, we must move forward and utilize new ways to empower people to know their status.

It’s important to note that an over-the-counter, oral/rapid home test is not replacing the conventional way we currently test for HIV. It’s simply an additional resource, an additional option. I know from traveling and listening to feedback that many people, including some who have chosen not to know their status using conventional methods, find it intrusive to discuss their sexual history with complete strangers (as an HIV-positive individual for nine years, I know firsthand how difficult that can be). An OTC test puts the power in the hands of the person wanting to know their status to decide where they will do this, who they will tell, and how they tell it.

Everyone acknowledges challenges with this type of test — including the awful scenario of an individual committing suicide after finding out a positive result. No one wants to lose a life, but there are resources available to help reduce this risk. I have been very open with the manufacturer of this test, OraSure Technologies, as well as the FDA, about my concerns about counseling, linkage to care, and partner notification, to name a few. I know that many advocates believe that in-person counseling should be required for HIV testing.

But this mentality is the very reason why many individuals simply don’t get tested. Why limit our options if someone wants to know their status? There will be trained professionals available via phone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An individual never has to be identified if they choose not to be, but they will get the support and the linkage to care they need.

I have been following this project for seven years and have talked to thousands of people about this. As a result, I feel that now is the time to move forward with an OTC, rapid/oral test. If we want to become the generation that ends AIDS, we can’t withhold the tools and technology from those who need them.

Original Article by Tom Donohue via Advocate.com

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Portrayal of HIV in the media & The Leveson Inquiry

The Prime Minister announced a two-part inquiry investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal, on 13 July 2011.

Lord Justice Leveson was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry.  The first part will examine the culture, practices and ethics of the media. In particular, Lord Justice Leveson will examine the relationship of the press with the public, police and politicians.  He is assisted by a panel of six independent assessors with expertise in key issues being considered by the Inquiry.

The Inquiry will make recommendations on the future of press regulation and governance consistent with maintaining freedom of the press and ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards.

Lord Justice Leveson opened the hearings on Monday 14 November 2011, saying: “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life. That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this Inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?”

A major concern for people living with HIV in the UK and the organisations that support them is the number of articles in the media that sensationalise and stigmatise HIV and unfairly represent individuals living with the virus.

Stories in the media can have a positive effect in increasing people’s awareness of HIV and what it means to live with HIV. However media reports about HIV are often stigmatising or inaccurate. Many stories contribute to a culture of blame about HIV transmission, focusing on so-called irresponsible sexual activity, use judgmental language and stereotype people living with HIV.

Improving the media’s coverage of HIV issues is vital to tackle discrimination experienced by people living with HIV, improve people’s knowledge and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Portrayal of HIV in the media

There are very few public figures who are open about their HIV status, and currently no established characters living with HIV in mainstream soaps or television dramas.   NAT are calling for proactive initiatives to portray realistic HIV stories in the media, with the BBC and Channel 4 taking the lead as part of their statutory duty to promote disability equality.

As well as in the media, NAT would like to see greater, and supportive, visibility for people living with HIV both in cultural representation and public life.

NAT recently made a submission to the Leveson Inquiry, which is examining the culture, practices and ethics of the media, and made the case for the need to tackle the frequent inaccuracies still written about HIV in the press and the use of stigmatising and prejudicial language.  You can read NAT’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry here.

Guidelines on Reporting HIV

NAT and the National Union of Journalists have jointly produced Guidelines on Reporting HIV to help journalists make sure that the articles that they write are not misleading and do not encourage negative perceptions about HIV.

You can read what NAT is saying to editors and journalists to improve reporting on HIV here.

Press Gang

Press Gang is an online group of people living with HIV who are interested in challenging stigmatising coverage in the media and making their voices heard. The National AIDS Trust keep Press Gang members informed of any stigmatising or inaccurate coverage and give them advice on how to challenge it.

Every day they scan many newspapers online and check other media for mentions of HIV and AIDS. Any articles that are identified as stigmatising or inaccurate are sent to Press Gang members via email as a ‘stigma alert’.

Members are then encouraged to write a letter to the editor or add a comment online pointing out why this article is stigmatising or inaccurate and informing readers about the realities of living with HIVin the UK.

If you’re living with HIV and are interested in challenging stigma in the media then you can find out more about find out more about joining ‘Press Gang’ here.

What’s in the news?

NAT scans the media in the UK and worldwide daily for stories relating to HIV and produces a summary of the main stories of the week, with online links to the original article. You can read the latest news here.  Where they identify inaccurate reporting of HIV, they always challenge it.

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