Tag Archives: Mental health

Mental health issues may increase HIV risk among gay, bisexual men

despair

Gay and bisexual men are at increased risk of acquiring the virus that leads to AIDS if they have mental health problems, according to a new study.

What’s more, their risk of acquiring HIV increases with the number of mental health factors they report, researchers found.

Past studies have found that mental disorders, ranging from depression to substance abuse, are often seen among men with HIV, but “nothing about whether these factors predict HIV risk behaviors or becoming infected with HIV,” said study leader Matthew Mimiaga, from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that some 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. About one case in six is undiagnosed. While the CDC says only about 4 percent of U.S. males have sex with other men, they represent about two-thirds of the country’s new infections.

Additionally, it’s known that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community also suffers from an increased burden of mental health problems.

When two health conditions tend to occur together in one population, researchers call them “syndemic.”

For the new study in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, the researchers looked at how five conditions – depression, alcohol abuse, stimulant use, multi-drug abuse and exposure to childhood sexual violence – affect men’s risk of acquiring HIV.

They analyzed data on 4,295 men who reported having sex with men within the previous year. The participants were asked about depressive symptoms, heavy alcohol and drug use and childhood sexual abuse.

The participants did not have HIV when they entered the study between 1999 and 2001. They then completed a behavioral survey and HIV test every six months for four years.

Overall, 680 men completed the study. Those who reported the most mental health issues were the most likely to become HIV positive by the end of the study. They were also most likely to report unprotected anal sex and unprotected anal sex with a person who has HIV.

For example, compared to people without any of the five syndemic conditions, those with four or five had about a nine-fold increased risk of being infected with HIV by the end of the study.

The people with four or five mental disorders were also about three times more likely to have unprotected anal sex and about four times as likely to have unprotected anal sex with a person infected with HIV, compared to people without any mental health issues.

Mimiaga said that the next step is to look at how this information can be used to improve HIV prevention methods.

“We need to think about the fact that men who have sex with men in the U.S. have a high prevalence of these syndemic factors (which) for the most part get in the way of traditional HIV messaging or traditional HIV interventions,” he said. “These factors . . . are driving a lot of the risk and really need to be addressed in a comprehensive approach.”

Future research should also examine whether these mental disorders and behavioral risk factors create barriers to men getting treatment for HIV once they are infected, Mimiaga said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1yhMU3C Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, online.

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Training Sessions (January – March 2015)

Celia---HIV-Basics

Celia Fisher (@LASSCelia) delivering HIV training at LASS.

 

Upcoming training in the new year includes HIV awareness, Hepatitis, Mental Health, Circumcision / FGM & HIV & The Law.

All sessions include group discussions and some include guest speakers. Please book using the LASS training booking form and email to training@lass.org.uk.

We have introduced some new sessions into the programme this term, as well as including the popular sessions.  Please note that sessions will start promptly and late comers may not be admitted depending on the discretion of the facilitator.

  •  29th January 2015 1-3pm
  • HIV & Hepatitis Update
  • Facilitated & delivered by LASS

The aim of this session is to provide an update of the recent advances and information about HIV & Hepatitis – including transmission, risks, treatment and statistics. It is beneficial to consider these blood borne viruses in one session and to explore the wider determinants of these viruses.

The session will be of interest and benefit to people who deliver health, HIV, Hepatitis or other support services such as housing, job advice, those who work with people living with / affected by or more at risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis. The session will benefit individuals who want to be up to date with their knowledge.

  • 5th February 2015 10am – 1pm
  • HIV & Mental Health   
  • Facilitated and delivered by Hayley Poole (clinical psychologist) and Celia Fisher.

 The aim of the session is to consider and review the links between HIV and mental health, from diagnosis through to good health and beyond. We will consider different aspects of mental health and factors specifically associated with HIV.

The session will include discussion about services, pathways and self-help, with approaches and mechanisms for managing our own mental health.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver health & related services, such as housing, job & career advice, community development, substance misuse, those who work with people living with or affected by HIV who may have mental health issues.

  • 5th March 2015: 10am  – 1pm
  • HIV & Circumcision / FGM – Understanding, issues and actions?
  • Facilitated by Maryan Anshur of Somali Development Services and Celia Fisher of LASS

 The session in November generated a lot of discussion and debate about both male circumcision and FGM, with FGM being a challenging topic for many people. This follow up session will enable others to find out about these topics and to continue the learning through discussion and listening. The session will explore our own and media perceptions and messages associated with circumcision and FGM. T

We will consider what action we need to take in working with women who have suffered FGM and with girls and young women who may be at risk of FGM.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver sexual health & HIV services, those who work with different communities in various settings including schools and colleges.

  • 23rd March 2015: 1-4pm
  • HIV & The Law
  • Facilitated by LASS

In March 2014, LASS facilitated an update of the situation regarding HIV & the Law and criminalisation for reckless transmission of HIV, delivered by Robert James of Birkbeck University. There have been some developments in the past year or more in the way the police investigate allegations, so the situation is not static.

This session will provide a refresher about this topic and will cover the changing approaches that police forces and the CPS are taking in investigations.

The session will be of interest to people who are living with or affected by HIV and for support workers and practitioners.

We also offer bespoke sessions for organisations and communities covering a range of topics. Please get in touch if you have particular training needs.

ADDITIONAL

We are also planning some sessions for people living with or affected by HIV: HIV & Relationships on 3rd February and HIV & Mental health on 3rd March, so please advertise these sessions with people you work with.

We are also looking at a Happy parenting course – perhaps 2 Saturdays – for people living with or affected by HIV who have children / are involved in child care within the family (grandpas & grandmas, uncles, aunts etc.). This will include a range of topics – hopes & aspirations; coping with stress; parenting dilemmas and solutions; the effect of food on mood: sleep; and others!

We’ll have more information on the above two courses in the new year.  For more information on training at LASS, please see Celia Fisher.

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Training Sessions (January – March 2015)

Celia---HIV-Basics

Celia Fisher (@LASSCelia) delivering HIV training at LASS.

 

Upcoming training in the new year includes HIV awareness, Hepatitis, Mental Health, Circumcision / FGM & HIV & The Law.

All sessions include group discussions and some include guest speakers. Please book using the LASS training booking form and email to training@lass.org.uk.

We have introduced some new sessions into the programme this term, as well as including the popular sessions.  Please note that sessions will start promptly and late comers may not be admitted depending on the discretion of the facilitator.

  •  29th January 2015 1-3pm
  • HIV & Hepatitis Update
  • Facilitated & delivered by LASS

The aim of this session is to provide an update of the recent advances and information about HIV & Hepatitis – including transmission, risks, treatment and statistics. It is beneficial to consider these blood borne viruses in one session and to explore the wider determinants of these viruses.

The session will be of interest and benefit to people who deliver health, HIV, Hepatitis or other support services such as housing, job advice, those who work with people living with / affected by or more at risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis. The session will benefit individuals who want to be up to date with their knowledge.

  • 5th February 2015 10am – 1pm
  • HIV & Mental Health   
  • Facilitated and delivered by Hayley Poole (clinical psychologist) and Celia Fisher.

 The aim of the session is to consider and review the links between HIV and mental health, from diagnosis through to good health and beyond. We will consider different aspects of mental health and factors specifically associated with HIV.

The session will include discussion about services, pathways and self-help, with approaches and mechanisms for managing our own mental health.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver health & related services, such as housing, job & career advice, community development, substance misuse, those who work with people living with or affected by HIV who may have mental health issues.

  • 5th March 2015: 10am  – 1pm
  • HIV & Circumcision / FGM – Understanding, issues and actions?
  • Facilitated by Maryan Anshur of Somali Development Services and Celia Fisher of LASS

 The session in November generated a lot of discussion and debate about both male circumcision and FGM, with FGM being a challenging topic for many people. This follow up session will enable others to find out about these topics and to continue the learning through discussion and listening. The session will explore our own and media perceptions and messages associated with circumcision and FGM. T

We will consider what action we need to take in working with women who have suffered FGM and with girls and young women who may be at risk of FGM.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver sexual health & HIV services, those who work with different communities in various settings including schools and colleges.

  • 23rd March 2015: 1-4pm
  • HIV & The Law
  • Facilitated by LASS

In March 2014, LASS facilitated an update of the situation regarding HIV & the Law and criminalisation for reckless transmission of HIV, delivered by Robert James of Birkbeck University. There have been some developments in the past year or more in the way the police investigate allegations, so the situation is not static.

This session will provide a refresher about this topic and will cover the changing approaches that police forces and the CPS are taking in investigations.

The session will be of interest to people who are living with or affected by HIV and for support workers and practitioners.

We also offer bespoke sessions for organisations and communities covering a range of topics. Please get in touch if you have particular training needs.

Additional

We are also planning some sessions for people living with or affected by HIV: HIV & Relationships on 3rd February and HIV & Mental health on 3rd March, so please advertise these sessions with people you work with.

We are also looking at a Happy parenting course – perhaps 2 Saturdays – for people living with or affected by HIV who have children / are involved in child care within the family (grandpas & grandmas, uncles, aunts etc.). This will include a range of topics – hopes & aspirations; coping with stress; parenting dilemmas and solutions; the effect of food on mood: sleep; and others!

We’ll have more information on the above two courses in the new year.  For more information on training at LASS, please see Celia Fisher.

 

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HIV Testing Training (This week)

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 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.

Africa Day Celebrations

Africa day and football poster

Greetings from all of us here at LASS, we hope you all are well.  We invite you to another fascinating event: the Africa Day celebrations featuring the LASS ‘Know Your HIV Status’ Football Tournament. We appreciate very much and thank you all for the support you have given us to date and encourage you to participate in what will be a colourful, fun and sporting day.

The ‘Africa Day Celebrations’  featuring the ‘LASS ‘Know your HIV football tournament 2013’ to be held on 6th July 2013 from 10.00 am at the Emerald Centre, 450 Gypsy Lane, Leicester, LE5 0TB. There will be 12 African teams fighting for the winners trophies.

There will be Winners and Runners Up trophies and 20 Gold medals for the winning team and 20 Silver medals for the runners up.

There will be different food on sale with lots of BBQ during the day.

Please note: rapid hiv testing (result in 60 seconds) will be voluntary for anyone.  Parking will be plenty: and please no alcohol or drinks to be brought on site except children’s drinks. There is a bar to cater for that.

We would like to make this a fun-filled family day so we appreciate it if you could bring your families, friends and colleagues. The day would be very colourful, funny and interesting if teams and spectators could bring with them their national flags to make it an exciting Africa Day celebrations event. There will be health stalls for Chlamydia screening diabetes (blood glucose), mental health, children’s mental health and hate crime. African clothing and artefacts will also be on sale. We hope to see you all to enjoy the day.

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March is National Bed Month!

Many people with HIV have problems sleeping. This can be due to being uncomfortable, illness, worry, anxiety, depression, treatment side-effects, and drug or alcohol use. Not getting enough sleep can cause health problems, but there are a number of practical things you can do to sleep better and in some cases medicines may help.

Organised by The Sleep Council, “National Bed Month” aims to remind us all of why a sound sleep is good for our health.  So time for a lie in before learning about the importance of a good night’s sleep!

Forget the old saying that if “You snooze, you loose.” It’s thought that a good sleep has amazing properties that make you healthier and happier, and can even add years to your life!

At the Sleep Council website, you can find out all about the essentials you need to have the perfect sleep, and of course, the right bed should be your number one priority.

In 1988 a ground breaking study found that by switching an uncomfortable old bed to a lovely new one meant an extra 42 minutes of sleep!  You can put your own bed through an MOT at the site and find out if changing your bed could lead to better sleep!

There are also lots of tips on how you can improve your night time regime and get more shut eye. So lie back, relax, and have much more than forty winks this National Bed Month!

Purpose of sleep

Sleep is essential to both physical and mental health. Sleep allows the body and mind to rest and recover. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause emotional problems such as depression. It is thought that long-term sleep problems can mean that the immune system doesn’t work properly, meaning that a person may be more likely to get ill.

Structure of sleep

Sleep follows a pattern, alternating between REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. In the course of a night, the body goes through cycles of REM and non-REM sleep, and a balance between these patterns is important to get a restful night’s sleep.

How much sleep is needed

People’s sleep needs vary, but eight hours is the average sleep requirement for an adult. However, some people feel refreshed on an average of six hours, and other people need an average of nine or ten hours. If you have been working or exercising very hard, are ill, or recovering from an illness or infection, you may find that the amount of sleep you need increases substantially.

Insomnia

Not being able to sleep is called insomnia. It can take many forms. Some people find it difficult to fall asleep; others wake up after just a few hours of sleep and then can’t get back to sleep; some people wake up very early in the morning; and other find that their sleep does not leave them feeling refreshed.

Causes of insomnia

For many people, worry or stress is the cause of their sleeplessness. Once a problem has resolved, then sleep patterns become better. However, more serious problems like anxiety and depression can cause sleep problems which last for very long periods. Symptoms of illnesses, such as night sweats, and pain can also interfere with sleep. It’s a good idea to report these problems to your doctor.

Although some people find that an alcoholic drink helps them to fall to sleep, heavy drinking can cause sleeplessness, as can drinking coffee or tea close to bedtime. Illegal drug use, especially stimulant drugs like amphetamine (speed), methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine also cause sleep problems.

Some drugs used to treat HIV, and illnesses associated with it, cause insomnia or other sleep problems. In particular, vivid dreams and insomnia are amongst the most common side-effects of efavirenz (Sustiva, also in the combination pill Atripla).

Practical factors such as your bed or pillows being uncomfortable, or the room you sleep in being too stuffy, warm, or cold could disrupt your sleep. Ideally, the room you sleep in should be cool and well-ventilated.

Managing sleep problems

In many cases a few lifestyle changes are enough to bring back good sleep. These might include avoiding tea and coffee and other stimulants for several hours before going to bed, or not napping during the day.

Having a regular bedtime may also help, as might not going to bed until you feel ready to sleep. If you cannot get to sleep after about 30 minutes, get up rather than tossing and turning and getting frustrated, which often makes the problem worse.

Do not be frightened to mention sleep problems to your doctor. If there is an underlying medical cause, such as depression, physical illness, or treatment side-effects, it is important that your doctor knows as soon as possible so appropriate action can be taken or treatment offered.

Medication, often called ‘sleeping tablets’, are available to help sleep. These can be used to help restore normal sleeping patterns. However, sleeping tablets often only help people fall asleep, but don’t keep people asleep, and can make people feel drowsy the next day. The use of some sleep medication over the long-term can cause dependency, although newer medications are becoming available which may not have these problems.

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