Tag Archives: hiv testing

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.

GET A HIV TEST AT LASS

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 shacc.co.uk

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 leicestersexualhealth.nhs.uk

Trade Sexual Health offers a rapid HIV testing service for LGB&T individuals.  Contact them on 0116 2541747 or visittradesexualhealth.com 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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HIV effort let down by test shortages, says WHO

The Most Revd Ephraim S Fajutagana, Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, undergoes an HIV test as part of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines public campaign to remove the stigma associated with HIV/Aids.

The Most Revd Ephraim S Fajutagana, Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, undergoes an HIV test as part of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines public campaign to remove the stigma associated with HIV/Aids.

A shortage of HIV testing could undermine global efforts to diagnose and treat people with the infection, warn experts from the World Health Organization.  They looked at responses to annual surveys that the WHO had sent to 127 countries between 2012 and 2014 asking about capacity and usage of blood tests that check HIV status and health.

Story via BBC
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They found worrying gaps in provision. They warn that United Nation targets for HIV could be missed as a result.

The targets say that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 90% of those diagnosed should receive antiretroviral therapy and 90% of these treated patients should have “durable viral suppression” (a measure of effective treatment).

Laboratory testing is vital to meet and monitor these aims.

But Vincent Habiyambere and his colleagues say in the journal PLoS Medicine that some low and middle-income countries, including African countries where the HIV burden is high, are not yet geared up for the challenge.

The surveys were sent to:

  • all 47 countries in the WHO African Region
  • 33 countries in the WHO Region of the Americas
  • all 21 countries in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region
  • eight high-burden HIV countries in the WHO European Region
  • all 11 countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region
  • seven high-burden HIV countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region

Over the three survey years, 55 (43%) countries responded to all three surveys, 35 (28%) to two surveys, 25 (20%) to one survey, and nine (7%) responded to none of the three surveys.

Testing provision did improve over the years, but shortfalls remained in some parts of the world.

Worrying gaps

Reasons for the gaps in provision included lack of reagents, equipment not being installed or maintained properly and inadequate or absent staff training. In some laboratories, machines were not serviced regularly. In others, machines broke down and were not covered by contracts to be serviced or fixed.

Dr Habiyambere and his team say: “A national laboratory strategic plan to strengthen services must be developed, implemented, and monitored by governments and their national and international partners.

“The focus of the international community, to ensure optimal use of laboratory technologies, should be on those countries where interventions for scaling up access to HIV diagnostic technologies are most needed.”

They acknowledge that they did not look at private sector testing and that some countries might rely more heavily on this than others.

In an accompanying editorial, HIV experts Peter Kilmarx and Raiva Simbi say the findings show some programmes may have been “overly focused” on buying equipment without planning for how it would be used and maintained.

In Zimbabwe, for example, only 5.6% of HIV patients on drug treatment in 2015 received regular blood checks to monitor their viral load – far fewer than the goal of 21%.  This was largely down to problems with resource mobilisation and specimen transport as well as equipment procurement, they say.

“Strong leadership, resources, planning, and management are needed to scale up laboratory services,” they conclude.

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Annual General Meeting 2015

AGM-2014

LASS Annual General Meeting

Thursday 8th October 2015

  • Doors open 6pm
  • Refreshments at 6:30pm
  • Meeting 7pm – 8:30pm

At Warning Zone: 30 Frog Island, off North Bridge Place, Leicester, LE3 5AG (Location and how to get to Warning Zone).

Everyone is welcome to our AGM; you can bring your family & friends

To reserve your space at the AGM, please enter your name and email address below and we’ll confirm your place.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Halve-It-Logo

Guest speaker

Tom Addison of Halve It

Halve It is a coalition of national experts determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV. Their goals are to: Halve the proportion of people diagnosed late with HIV and to halve the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV.

The Halve It campaign calls upon all levels of government and their agencies to ensure that HIV is a public health priority both locally and nationally, they are asking the government to:

  • Fully implement National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance on HIV testing.
  • Support the delivery of the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) by ensuring that local health organisations are equipped to realise the benefits of early detection of HIV.
  • Offer incentives to test for HIV in a variety of healthcare settings, for example through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) and Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) frameworks.
  • Ensure that people diagnosed with HIV have access to any retroviral therapies (ARTs) to prevent onward transmission in line with the joint recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA) and the British HIV Association (BHIVA).
  • Ensure quality-assured (ie CE marked) self-testing kits for HIV when available, are integrated into local HIV testing strategies along with home sampling kits.

To find out more about the campaign download their position paper here

For more information on our AGM please contact: Reception@lass.org.uk, or call us on: 0116 255 9995

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Shooting Challenge: Week 5 Winner & Week 6: “Unsafe Sex”

KeeberEstelleHIVTesting

HIV Testing by Estelle Keeber

Congratulations to Estelle Keeber, who created a collage of emotions.  Estelle has said there are various emotions when confronted with HIV testing and there is a mix of people to show that HIV and HIV testing can affect everyone.  She also said this is light hearted, hence the exaggerated expressions but the message is clear.  That it is ok to feel however you want about HIV testing, that everyone is different.  You can see Estelle’s work and that of all our Shooting Challenge entrants (up to last week) at the Positive Art exhibition on Charles Street, Leicester.  (Details here)

Other entrants this week are Celia Fisher, Gavin Whyman and Zoe Van-De-Velde, (images below).  Thank you all for your pictures this week and we can’t wait to see what you come up with next week!

FisherCeliaItStartedWithMe

It Started With Me by Celia Fisher

FisherCeliaPowersOfPersuasion.jpg

Powers Of Persuasion by Celia Fisher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Know your Viruses by Gavin Whyman

 

VandeVeldeZoeWitchTest

Witch Trial by Zoe Van-De-Velde

 WEEK 6: UNSAFE SEX!

As with last week, there’s no photographic technique this week but we do want you the conform to theme.  We’ve spoken about stigma, big phama, chastity, infections, HIV testing & Safe Sex.  This week, we’d like to know how you would photograph Unsafe Sex.  (Now, bear in mind we’re a family blog, so nothing which can be considered pornographic thank you)!

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Photograph what you consider unsafe sex to be.  This could be a broken condom, (no condoms)? — drugs, one night stands, alcohol, etc.. get creative and show us how you can represent what unsafe sex can be!  You could be literal, conceptual, funny, clever, thought provoking, depressive, emotive, sexy, it’s all about what you can come up with, and who knows, you could win!

THE EXAMPLE

RobsonTomUnsafe

Ready & Waiting by Tom Robson

In the photograph above, you see clear signs of substance abuse together with an on-line dating app.  What’s just happened? – The individual is face down, is he conscious? Did he manage to get a fix? Did he manage to find someone before he passed out?  What did he say to them if he did? How will he be looked after?  Can he be assured he’s about to have safe sex? These are just the starting questions from this photograph.  Is there anything in this scene which is safe? – Has he called for an ambulance? What is about to happen?

This shot was quickly set up and posed for, yet it’s connotations are that of unsafe sex. – What will your gaze tell you?

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 7th December 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on Monday, 8th December as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameUnsafe.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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Shooting Challenge: Week 4 Winner & Week 5: “HIV Testing Week”

Contrast, by Jenny Hand

 

Congratulations this week goes to Jenny Hand who’s photo this week received the most votes.  As World AIDS Day is approaching, Jenny said she wanted to include the symbol of the day and decided to contrast it against the white of a sperm keyring she has.  Well done Jenny!  Her image will be added to the winners of this and the next 3 Shooting Challenges where an overall winner will be decided and a prize given.

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Poisoned Apple, by Zoe Van-De-Velde

Our other entrant this week is from Zoe Van-De-Velde, featuring a biblical theme with Eve biting into the forbidden fruit and a green ribbon representing the snake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5: HIV Testing Week!

Our theme this week is slightly different, in that we’re not specifying a particular photographic technique to use.  If you’ve been following our shooting challenge you’ll see we haven’t had many entries and that’s ok, it is of course for fun and we feel that some people may be put off by adhering to a photo technique.  So this week, to encourage more entrants, you can use whatever technique you like!  HOWEVER, in keeping with our ever present HIV and Sexual Health theme, we would like you to photograph “HIV Testing”

Nat Tst Wk 2014 GREENIt’s currently HIV Testing Week and LASS are planning a number of events in Leicester to mark it’s third anniversary.

National HIV Testing Week was established by HIV Prevention England in 2012, in a bid to reduce high levels of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed HIV among gay and bisexual men and Africans in England. In 2013, there were an estimated 1250 people living with HIV in Leicester & Leicestershire, one in five of whom remain undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly.

You do not need to be a photographer to join into this competition (and if your a student of the art, we’d love to see your ideas and pictures)!  Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, everyone is capable of taking photographs – we’d like to tap into this, get creative with the gear you already have, it’s not about the tech, it’s about YOU!

THE BRIEF:

Simply photograph anything you feel is related to a HIV Test.  You could be literal, conceptual, funny, clever, thought provoking, depressive, emotive, sexy, it’s all about what you can come up with, and who knows, you could win!

THE EXAMPLE

 

by Tom Robson

“I’m Testing” by Tom Robson & Chaz Ram

Clearly, you can see this shot didn’t take a lot of time, there are creases in the background, the colour is very slightly off and not all of the scene is in focus.  Yet you can still see elements of clinical procedure here, perhaps the aftermath of a test, (or failed test as there is no blood in the test tube)*

There’s no technique this week and this example demonstrates you can create a photograph using objects around you.  Sure, at LASS we have the advantage of latex gloves, a test tube, rack and a plaster and we’re sure you’ll be able to find items around the home or provide a much better image than this one so why not give it a try?  Tom & Chaz decided upon and shot this image within 2 minutes to demonstrate it doesn’t take a lot of time to get your picture, once you have your idea.

*(LASS Rapid HIV Tests do not need test tube amounts of blood, it’s a simple finger prick)

THE RULES:

  • Follow the brief
  • Send your best photos by 6PM on Sunday 30th November 2014 with “Shooting Challenge” in the subject to photography@lass.org.uk and we’ll announce the winner on World AIDS Day, (1st December 2014) as we set the theme for next week’s shooting challenge.
  • Submissions must be your own work.
  • Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
  • Explain briefly in your submission email the equipment, settings, technique used and the story behind the image/images.
  • We will of course credit you so if you have a website or twitter handle, let us know! – If you’re happy for us to use the images elsewhere on our site – do let us know!
  • Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameEasy.jpg
  • Anyone can enter, regardless of camera gear, or location!
  • The most important rule — HAVE FUN!
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LASS marks National HIV Testing Week in Leicester with a range of HIV Testing opportunities

Nat Tst Wk 2014 GREEN

LASS is planning a number of events in Leicester to mark the third annual National HIV Testing Week (22nd – 30th November).

National HIV Testing Week was established by HIV Prevention England in 2012, in a bid to reduce high levels of undiagnosed and late-diagnosed HIV among gay and bisexual men and Africans in England. In 2013, there were an estimated 1250 people living with HIV in Leicester & Leicestershire, one in five of whom remain undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on unwittingly.

LASS and its regional partners in the HPE contract are extending the number and range of testing opportunities for people during National HIV Testing Week. Celia Fisher of LASS says: “Our aim is to increase the uptake of HIV testing within the different African communities in Leicester, as well as other communities. Our experience shows that by making HIV testing more accessible in different social & community venues it has become more acceptable and we always have a queue.”

LASS will be offering Rapid HIV Testing at LASS on Saturday 22nd & Saturday 29th November from 9.30 – 12:  the ideal opportunity for people who do not have time during the week. We are also offering Couples testing on both days – so you can get tested together and share your results.

We will be offering HIV Testing at Club Oxygen on Wharf Street on Saturday 29th November from 5 – 8pm.

Weekday testing is available every day at LASS from 9.30 – 4.30 – so you can drop in anytime if that suits you.

National HIV Testing Week is supported by major public health bodies, including Public Health England, the British HIV Association (BHIVA), and the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH).

To get involved in this year’s National HIV Testing Week, visit http://www.StartsWithMe.org.uk. For further information on National HIV Testing Week events in Leicester please contact Celia Fisher (celia@lass.org.uk).

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