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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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HIV testing rates surge among gay men in England, following nationwide drive

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The numbers of gay and bisexual men in England coming forward for HIV testing has surged, following a nationwide drive to encourage those in high-risk groups to test for the virus and reduce the proportion of infections that remain undiagnosed.

Data collected by Public Health England (PHE) showed a marked increase in HIV testing rates among men who have sex with men during the period from 2011 – 2012, the period when Terrence Higgins Trust and HIV Prevention England launched National HIV Testing Week. The week was launched in November 2012 to encourage HIV testing among high-risk groups, in the largest partnership to date between NHS sexual health clinics, community based HIV testing services, and national and local HIV prevention organisations. This year, the third National HIV Testing Week will run from 22nd – 30th November.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of gay and bisexual men who had an HIV test in NHS clinics in England rose by 13% (64,270 – 72,710). In London, the increase was sharper still, with a rise of 19% (28,640 – 33,980). During the same period, the proportion of gay and bisexual men with HIV who remained undiagnosed fell from 20% to 18%.

Cary James, Head of Health Improvement at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We have been thrilled by the success of National HIV Testing Week, and particularly the speed and enthusiasm with which people all over the country have picked up the event and run with it.

“The national figures on HIV give us confidence that our ongoing drive to get more gay men testing more regularly is having an impact. Testing rates are up, diagnoses are up, and the level of undiagnosed HIV is coming down. We need to keep this momentum going, so we will be throwing everything we have behind National HIV Testing Week 2014. We want to get the message out there that together, we can stop HIV.”

In the UK, gay men and African communities are the groups most at risk of HIV. Currently, around one in five people with HIV remains undiagnosed and therefore more likely to pass the virus on than someone who has tested and is on treatment. HIV Prevention England’s It Starts With Me campaign focuses on curbing new infections by increasing testing rates and reducing the level of undiagnosed HIV within high-risk groups.

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

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Video Games, Social Networks May Help Prevent HIV

tech

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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Going to Hospital? – How about a HIV Test?

Ch4Test

A London NHS trust is offering all hospital outpatients an HIV test, regardless of why they are there, to tackle the fact that a fifth of people in the UK with HIV are unaware of their infection.

Click to view Channel 4 News video (3:21 min, opens in a new window)

Patients coming in to six hospitals across in east London this week for anything from follow-up appointments to routine blood tests will all be offered an HIV test.

The initiative is part of a national drive to get more people in the UK tested. Around 100,000 people in the UK have HIV, (About 1,300 are within Leicestershire) but experts estimate that around one fifth are unaware of their diagnosis because they have not had a test. This means not only that their condition can become more advanced and harder to treat, but also that they could unintentionally infect others.

Thousands of patients pass through NHS hospitals every day – but at the moment, HIV testing is limited to only a few specific areas.

Dr Chloe Orkin, HIV testing lead for Barts Health NHS Trust, said:

“We are used to seeing health messages all the time in hospitals about stopping smoking, or having a flu jab. Messages encouraging HIV testing should take an important place amongst them.

We are used to seeing messages about stopping smoking. Messages encouraging HIV testing should take a place amongst them.”

Dr Chloe Orkin, Barts Health NHS Trust

The trust aims to test 2,500 outpatients across six London hospitals this week, including the Royal London, in what is thought to be the biggest testing campaign of its kind ever in the UK. It wants to remove the stigma of an HIV test.

HIV infection remains one of the UK’s most important communicable diseases, according to Public Health England. And the problem is worse in some areas, including east London – where people are three times more likely to have HIV than elsewhere in the UK.

But a positive diagnosis is a long way from the “death sentence” that it used to be seen as in the 1980s. Medical advances mean that people diagnosed promptly can expect a near normal life expectancy.

‘I felt let down’

Alan, a 70-year-old Londoner, spent 12 months of illness recently without a diagnosis because none of the doctors who saw him thought of offering him a HIV test.

“Nobody thought to test me for HIV. When I was finally asked if I was willing to be tested I immediately said: ‘Yes, by all means, let’s get that out of the way,'” he said.

“Having been found to be positive at almost seventy years old was a massive shock but once it had sunk in I did feel somewhat let down that nobody had suggested it before, despite the otherwise wonderful care I had received.

“We need to take away the stigma of being tested for HIV so that it becomes a routine test for people visiting hospital irrespective of their gender, ethnicity or age.”

An earlier, smaller pilot at the hospital earlier this year found eight people who were not aware they were HIV positive and who are now receiving treatment. Doctors hope to help more people with the new testing push. Results will be made available within a week and anyone who tests positive will be offered continuing treatment.

Clinicians and HIV charities are united in the belief that testing in this manner is the way forward, but there are issues with cost. Student doctors are providing the tests at the hospital this week.

But Barts NHS Trust says testing like this would ultimately save money. It costs around £5 to do an HIV test and around £5,000 a year to keep an HIV positive person healthy, but it can cost £500,000 to treat someone who is diagnosed late and who needs costly treatments in hospital.

“We want to make it normal for staff to offer HIV tests, and normal for patients to accept them,” said Dr Orkin.

“If a doctor missed a diabetes or cancer diagnosis people would be very upset. Diagnosing HIV patients late by not testing them is just as serious and we need to change this.”

If you would like a free, confidential HIV test, you can visit LASS for a free confidential

Did you know it’s National HIV Testing week this week? – If you’ve never had a HIV Test and had sex at least once, without a condom, then it might be a good idea to get one.

Our tests are free and confidential and iIt only takes a few minutes to get the result. Call us on 0116 2559995 if you’re interested.

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National HIV Testing Week – 4 Days To Go!!

HIVTW

4 DAYS TO GO!!!

You know you’ve been thinking about getting a test for HIV for ages – so this is the week to do it! – along with many others across the region, country and in Europe.

Our HIV testing service will be available at a range of settings and events during National HIV Testing week:

Saturday 23rd November 9:30 – 11: We will offer testing at LASS for those who can’t access the service during the week. You can also pick up condoms and information to prepare for the Saturday night out! (Let us know what you’re up to in the comments)!

Monday 25th November 11 – 3: Health & Well being event at LASS. Other health checks and information will be available including Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, BMI.

Tuesday 26th November 11.30 – 2 : University of Leicester Students Union as part of World AIDS Day awareness.

Wednesday 27th November 4 – 8: Oxygen Club, Wharf Street

Thursday 28th November 4 – 8: Oxygen Club, Wharf Street

Friday 29th November   4 – 8:  Oxygen Club, Wharf Street

Friday 29th November 3-5:  ZAS drop in @ Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate

Our office based Rapid HIV testing will be available everyday during the week from 9:30 – 16:00.  Drop in at 53 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 6YF (Map) or call us on 0116 2559995.

Check out the details of HIV Testing week and remember, you can pop in to LASS for a free and confidential rapid HIV test.  It only takes a few minutes to get the result.  Call us on 0116 2559995 if you’re interested.

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Audit shows many high HIV prevalence areas in England are failing to expand HIV testing

HIV TESTING

Most sexual health commissioners for areas in England with a high HIV prevalence have introduced some form of expanded HIV testing, a study published in the online edition of HIV Medicine shows. However, only a small minority were following national guidance, with just a third having commissioned testing for new registrants in general practice and 14% commissioning testing for people admitted to hospital.

“The results of this audit confirm that routine HIV testing in these settings has been commissioned in only a minority of high-prevalence areas”, comment the authors. “Prioritizing the introduction of routine testing in these settings will be necessary to fully implement national testing guidelines.”

Late diagnosis of HIV is a major concern in the UK. Approximately half of people newly diagnosed with HIV have a CD4 cell count below the threshold for the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (350 cells/mm3) recommended by the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and between a fifth and a quarter of all HIV infections are undiagnosed. Improving HIV diagnosis rates is key to strategies to reduce rates of HIV-related illness and also the continued spread of the virus.

National HIV testing guidelines were issued in 2008 and were endorsed in 2011 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). These recommend that HIV testing should be expanded beyond traditional settings (sexual health clinics and antenatal services) in areas with a high HIV prevalence – an infection rate of above 2 per 1000. In these circumstances, the guidelines recommend the universal testing of all patients newly registering with a GP, the screening of all new medical admissions to hospital and targeted outreach programmes.

Investigators wanted to assess the level of adherence to these guidelines and to see if there were any obstacles to the expansion of testing.

Between May and June 2012, the investigators contacted sexual health commissioners in the 40 English primary care trusts (PCTs) with a HIV prevalence above 2 per 1000. There was an 88% response rate (35 of 40).

All the respondents were aware of the testing guidelines and the majority (80%; 23 of 35) has introduced some form of expanded testing.

In most cases, this was testing in the community (51%; 18 of 35), followed by testing in general practice (49%; 17 of 35) and testing in hospitals (37%; 13 of 35). However, only four PCTs (11%) had commissioned expanded testing services in all three settings.

Areas with especially high prevalence were more likely to have commissioned services. All but one of the PCTs with a prevalence above 5 per 1000 (92%, 11 of 12) had commissioned some form of expanded testing. More worryingly, a third of PCTs with background prevalence between 2-3 per 1000 had commissioned any form of expanded testing and only 33% had introduced testing at GPs, with just one commissioning testing in hospitals.

When the investigators examined adherence to the specific recommendations of the guidelines, they found that only 31% of PCTs (11 of 35) had commissioned routine testing of new registrants at GPs. Moreover, only a small minority (10 to 20%) of GP practices in these areas participated in expanded testing. In a fifth of PCTs, testing was limited to high-risk groups. PCTs in London, compared to PCTs elsewhere in England, were somewhat more likely to have commissioned the routine testing of new GP registrants (38 vs 18%). HIV testing was incorporated into general sexual health screening at GPs in 17% of PCTs (6 of 35).

An even lower proportion of PCTs had commissioned the routine testing of new admissions to hospital (14%; 5 of 35).

Over half of PCTs (51%) had commissioned community testing via outreach programmes carried out by charities and the voluntary sector. This testing targeted high-risk or marginalised populations including men who have sex with men (six PCTs), African people (four), sex workers (two), people who inject drugs (one) and the homeless (one). Settings for community testing included saunas, polyclinics, pharmacies, prisons, churches and health centres.

Almost all PCTs (94%; 33 of 35) cited lack of resources as a barrier to introducing expanded testing, with two-thirds (23 of 35) also stating that the re-organisation of the NHS was an obstacle. Approximately 75% of commissioners (26 of 35) expected the rate of HIV testing carried out in their area to increase over the next year. None expected a decrease.

“Modelling of the UK HIV epidemic has shown that higher rates of testing combined with timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy can result in reduced HIV incidence”, write the authors. They note that most respondents had introduced some form of expanded testing, “however, only a minority covered the two medical settings mentioned in national testing guidelines…new registrants in general practice…and general medical admissions.” The authors conclude that recent organisational changes in the NHS make it important to monitor “changes in the commissioning of testing over time”.

HIV TESTING WEEK

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Did you know it’s National HIV Testing week from 25th? – If you’ve never had a HIV Test and had sex at least once, without a condom, then YOU need a test!

Check out the details of HIV Testing week and remember, you can pop in to LASS for a free and confidential rapid HIV test.  It only takes a few minutes to get the result.  Call us on 0116 2559995 if you’re interested.

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