Tag Archives: LASS

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall HIV patients not helped by NHS shake-up

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MP Liz Kendall with LASS CEO Jenny Hand at the Women’s Health Conference. Photo by Tom Robson

It has been three decades since we first became aware of HIV in Britain. During those dark early years, having HIV was like being given a death sentence.

Fear, stigma, discrimination and ignorance left people suffering in silence and perpetuated the spread of this terrible disease.

We’ve made huge strides forward since the 1980s and organisations such as Leicestershire Aids Support Service (Lass) have led the way.

People with HIV can now expect to live longer, healthier and happier lives. But there is still much more that needs to be done.

Last week, I opened Lass’s conference at De Montfort University, which brought together more than 100 delegates from across the country to discuss the challenges ahead.

First, we must continue to raise public awareness about HIV/Aids because, despite all the progress, it hasn’t gone away.

There are 100,000 people in Britain living with HIV and nearly a quarter of them do not know they have contracted the virus.

The diagnosis rate in Leicester is just over three people for every 1,000 of our population, which is more than twice the national average.

Second, we must redouble our efforts to prevent people getting the disease, including by promoting safe sex, and to encourage more people to get tested.

This means confronting head-on the idea that “it can’t happen to me” and tackling some of the difficult issues around religious belief and stigma. Third, people with HIV need the very best standards of care.

This includes not only clinical treatment but help and advice with housing, employment and personal finances, and emotional support, too.

Unfortunately, these challenges are now harder to address because of the Government’s NHS reorganisation.

Contraception services, testing, treatment and public awareness campaigns have been fragmented.  Responsibilities are now split between national bodies including NHS England and Public Health England and local organisations such as GP clinical commissioning groups and councils.

This does not make sense for patients or get the best value for taxpayers’ money.

The resulting confusion and uncertainty come at the same time as funding for local NHS, council care services and voluntary organisations such as Lass is being cut.

Lass is trying to support people with HIV to better cope with these combined pressures.

Its pioneering women’s programme is helping improve patients’ understanding of their condition and become more involved with their care.

It brings women with HIV together to share their experiences, learn skills, gain qualifications, find work and improve their overall quality of life.

Families and friends are supported, too.

So far, 154 women have benefited. Their relationships with NHS staff have improved, resulting in a better experience of care.

Eight women are now in employment and an additional 13 have enrolled in college courses.

I’m determined to champion the excellent work of organisations such as Lass as a local MP and a member of Labour’s shadow health team.

It’s only by working together that we will address the big health challenges we face, including HIV and Aids.

The LASS Women’s Programme

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The LASS Women’s programme is a sustainable project run by women for women, helping them to:

  • Understand more about HIV
  • Become more involved with (and knowledgeable about) their health care
  • Reduce feelings of alienation and isolation
  • Receive and give peer support
  • Learn new skills and gain qualifications
  • Return to (or enter into) the workplace
  • Gain an improved quality of life.

For your copy of the report, please click here

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The LASS Women’s Programme

final-womens-report-1

The LASS Women’s programme is a sustainable project run by women for women, helping them to:

  • Understand more about HIV
  • Become more involved with (and knowledgeable about) their health care
  • Reduce feelings of alienation and isolation
  • Receive and give peer support
  • Learn new skills and gain qualifications
  • Return to (or enter into) the workplace
  • Gain an improved quality of life.

Rationale behind the programme

The pressures facing LASS and many other HIV support organisations, were compounded by those facing its service members, many of whom found themselves living in increasingly precarious and difficult circumstances.

LASS were aware of the changing health and social care environment, along with the changing education and employment environment. In addition, budgets have been cut from many of these services, including those provided by LASS. These cuts were even greater than expected, consequently having a far wider and greater impact than initially anticipated. Therefore, LASS took steps to initially concentrate on helping women living with HIV to adapt to the changing environment. Further projects are planned for other groups who are equally affected by these changes.

Leicester has the 6th highest prevalence of HIV outside London in England among people aged between 15 and 59 years. In the UK, people living with HIV are disproportionately represented in the communities of Black African people and gay men

In just one year, 154 women have benefited from this programme, 8 are now in employment, an additional 13 enrolled in college courses and 4 are now delivering sessions to other women enrolling in the programme.

Links with local health care professionals have also been enhanced, so far resulting in a new and improved HIV psychological care pathway.

Please click here for a full copy of the report.

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Tory warns sex health cash cuts could lead to rise in HIV cases

Tory councillor Roy Webb is concerned about the impact of spending cuts on sexual health services.

Tory councillor Roy Webb is concerned about the impact of spending cuts on sexual health services.

FEARS of an increase in HIV infection rates in Derby if cuts proposed by the city council go ahead have been voiced.

Tory opposition councillor Roy Webb’s comments came after a letter opposing one of the cuts was sent to the authority by us, Leicestershire Aids Support Services.

The authority is proposing to cut £430,000 from the sexual health budget in the 2014-15 financial year.  The mooted cut was included in its recent consultation on how it will find £9 million of savings on top of £20 million already found.

It says the move would involve “ending service contracts for specialist sexual health promotion services,” and renegotiating contracts for “sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy testing”.

The document adds that the council wants to “refocus free oral emergency contraception to under-18s available to pharmacy outlets only”.  The city council was, on Friday, asked for more details but said it was unable to provide them.

But Mark Tittley, cabinet member for adults and health, said that, if the cuts went ahead, the council “would still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids”.

Mr Webb, who is shadow cabinet member for health and adult care, said part of the cuts would hit Derbyshire Positive Support which gives confidential, stigma-free, support to people with HIV, and their families.

He said: “The withdrawal of contract funding for Derbyshire Positive Support may well, if it follows the national trend, increase infection rates as it has in areas where similar services have been decommissioned.”

A letter to the council from Leicestershire AIDS Support Services carries another warning.

It says: “Cuts will increase the likelihood of early death, and ill-health resulting in high levels of need for costly social care support and can be avoided by maintaining effective local services.”

Mr Webb added that, having met with a “public health official”, it was clear that any savings made in the budget were not going to be used to improve services elsewhere but “just used to support the council’s budget position”.

He said: “I think this a dangerous position to take as the on-going health and social care cost of failing to support these services could be much more expensive than keeping them.”

Mr Tittley said: “It is important to note that if these proposals are accepted by the council, we will still continue to fulfil our statutory and moral duty to provide open access sexual health services to all within our community who need them, including people affected by HIV/Aids.”

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Missed, HIV Testing Week? – Don’t worry we do it all year round :-)

We are pleased publish our advert to promote HIV testing, this advert speaks with 15 languages internationally.

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 so you can be sure to get expert advice for your needs.

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. (0116 2559995)

Volunteering Contribution Recognised, (Thanks Ebi)!

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Our very own Ebi Ntzhila’s volunteering contribution to LASS was recognised recently at the The Lord Mayor’s civic reception to thank volunteers for their selfless work across the city.

Councillor Mustafa Kamal hosted the event at the Town Hall on Monday, November 25.

It celebrated the valuable contribution volunteering makes to the city and the individuals who make it all possible.

Volunteers were nominated by colleagues, our Chief Executive Officer Jenny Hand (@LASSJennyHand) nominated Ebi.  She was congratulated by the Lord Mayor and presented with a certificate of thanks.

The event was organised by the city council and Voluntary Action Leicestershire.

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HIV Testing Training (This week)

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Celia Fisher, delivering HIV Training at The Michael Wood Centre

At the moment around 100,000 people in Britain are living with HIV, and it is estimated that as many as one in four of them don’t know they are infected. It’s hoped that making HIV tests much more accessible will encourage many people to take control over their own health.

HIV Testing has been available for just under 30 years, presently it’s available from GU clinics and registered testing centres such as LASS and from April next year, home testing for HIV will become legal in the UK.

To slow down the spread of HIV and help people to access treatment, LASS invests in rapid testing services in community settings. There is particularly low uptake in some African communities, so LASS trains volunteers from these communities to carry out testing and to provide information.

We provide testing at a range of events and venues including African football tournaments to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be tested. We also provide services for people with HIV who maybe coping with other issues like poor mental health.  We also provide healthy living training.

If you would like to join the team and become a community HIV tester with LASS, we are running training sessions this Thursday and Friday (26th & 27th September) – from 9.30 to 4.30 on both days at The Michael Wood Centre.

This course is available to LASS volunteers only.

The course covers theory and practice about HIV transmission, Basic HIV knowledge, treatment and benefits of testing, Pre-test “discussion” and information, Sharing test results, Inclusive practices and consideration of different communities and cultures, Role play scenarios, Procedures to use testing kits and Working with different clients.   Following the training, you will need to complete a written test.

To enrol on the course, please contact us on 0116 2559995 or email Celia or Eric for more information.

HIV Testing Training

Celia---HIV-Basics

Celia Fisher delivering HIV Training at The Michael Wood Centre

At the moment around 100,000 people in Britain are living with HIV, and it is estimated that as many as one in four of them don’t know they are infected. It’s hoped that making HIV tests much more accessible will encourage many people to take control over their own health.

HIV Testing has been available for just under 30 years, presently it’s available from GU clinics and registered testing centres such as LASS and from April next year, home testing for HIV will become legal in the UK.

To slow down the spread of HIV and help people to access treatment, LASS invests in rapid testing services in community settings. There is particularly low uptake in some African communities, so LASS trains volunteers from these communities to carry out testing and provide information.

They provide testing at a range of events and venues including African football tournaments to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be tested. We also provides services for people with HIV who maybe coping with other issues like poor mental health.  We also provide healthy living training.

Would you like to become a community HIV tester with LASS? We are running the training sessions for this at LASS on Thursday 26th & Friday 27th September – from 9.30 to 4.30 each day at The Michael Wood Centre.

This course is available to LASS volunteers only.

The course covers theory and practice about HIV transmission, Basic HIV knowledge, treatment and benefits of testing, Pre-test “discussion” and information, Sharing test results, Inclusive practices and consideration of different communities and cultures, Role play scenarios, Procedures to use testing kits and Working with different clients.   Following the training, you will need to complete a written test.

To enrol on the course, please contact us on 0116 2559995 or email Celia or Eric for more information.

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