Tag Archives: Public Health England

There’s currently an outbreak of Hepatitis A affecting gay and bisexual men.

Hepatitis A outbreak in England under investigation

Public Health England is investigating a hepatitis A outbreak predominantly affecting men who have sex with men. Between July 2016 and 2 April 2017, 266 cases associated with the outbreak had been identified in England. At least 74% of these were among MSM, and 63% of cases were in London. There is evidence that there have been some cases in the wider population linked to the outbreak.

A high proportion of cases likely acquired the infection abroad at the beginning of the outbreak, but transmission now mainly occurs in England. The outbreak comprises three concurrently-circulating genotype Ia strains, previously not seen in England. Hepatitis A outbreaks caused by the same strains are concurrently occurring in 12 European countries and elsewhere in the UK outside of England [1,2].

As part of the outbreak response, PHE together with the British Association for Sexual health and HIV have recommended that MSM with one or more new or casual partner in the last three months are opportunistically vaccinated in GUM clinics at their next appointment. In addition, pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up around gay venues in London. PHE is considering wider vaccination strategies to respond this outbreak, which is occurring in the context of a global shortage of hepatitis A vaccine.

See the PDF version of this report for the epidemiological curve depicting the outbreak.

References:

  1. ECDC (December 2016). Rapid risk assessment: hepatitis A outbreaks in the EU/EEA mostly affecting men who have sex with men.
  2. Beebeejaun K, Degala S, Balogun K, Simms I, Woodhall SC, Heinsbroek E, et al (2017). Outbreak of hepatitis A associated with men who have sex with men (MSM), England, July 2016 to January 2017. Euro. Surveill. 22(5), 2 February.

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East Midlands African HIV Prevention Partnership awarded innovative HIV prevention fund

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Public Health England has awarded £500,000 to support seven innovative voluntary-led HIV projects across England.

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) remains a major public health concern. Rates of infection are continuing to rise among certain groups of the population and the innovative M1 Distribution Centre Project aims to make a difference to HIV awareness by reducing late diagnosis and improving work place health. We will provide HIV and health awareness raising and testing events and use text messaging services to reach people who may not have time to get to their local health services. By working with some of the large work places in distribution centres in the Midlands along the M1, we will take health and HIV information and testing to where there are large numbers of male workers. Within the partnership we will share lessons and learning from the M1 events and also examine how people use texting to share information about health and HIV. We will particularly explore the project’s impact on HIV late diagnosis and awareness of HIV and other health conditions. We will also assess the impact that higher levels of awareness has on employment.

This project will be delivered by the East Midlands African HIV Prevention Partnership  – a partnership of local HIV awareness delivery organisations ( AISD – Nottingham, Well for Life – Derbyshire, Sunrise Family Support – Corby, STASS – Milton Keynes and Embrace Life, Luton – coordinated by Well for Living – Leicester and working with the University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences  as our evaluators.

There are an estimated 107,000 people living with the virus in the UK, of whom around a quarter (26,100) are unaware they have HIV and are at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to others. However targeted and innovative local initiatives can reduce the risk of people catching or passing on HIV.

The new National HIV prevention fund is supporting selected local projects that offer new and innovative ways of delivering HIV prevention, aiming to turn around the ever increasing numbers of new HIV diagnoses among certain groups of the population. Public Health England received over 90 applications to the fund for 2015-16 from all across England, from which seven projects were allocated funding.

Project Quote/s

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said;

“While we are seeing HIV rates declining in the general population, it is still a serious problem within certain communities. The national innovation fund supports projects that offer creative approaches to a longstanding issue, boosting local action to help reduce the rates of HIV among high-risk groups, such as African communities.”

Jenny Hand, CEO of LASS and Well for Living said;

“We and our partners in the East Midlands African HIV Prevention Partnership are really delighted to be working closely with PHE on our innovation fund. We are confident that through our innovative M1 distribution centre project we will contribute to reducing late HIV diagnosis, improving HIV awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination.”

Dr. Holly Blake and Dr. Catrin Evans, senior researchers from the University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences, said:

“We are thrilled to be involved in this exciting initiative which combines established and new technologies in promoting health amongst groups who are traditionally very hard to reach. Lessons learned from this project have the potential to influence HIV prevention on a far wider level.”

The seven successful projects all target groups at high risk and are supported by their local authorities.

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One in six people accessing HIV care are aged 55 or over

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Treatment improvements, ongoing transmission and a steady increase in new diagnoses have contributed to an increase in the number of people living with diagnosed HIV.

According to a new report from Public Health England, there were 85,489 people being seen for HV care across the UK in 2014. “The age of people accessing care for HIV continues to increase, with almost one in six now aged over 55,” it adds. “The aging cohort of people living with HIV emphasises the importance of integrated care pathways to manage co-morbidities and other complications.”

Other data in the report includes:

  • There were 6,151 new diagnoses in 2014, a slight increase from 2013
  • The number of men who have sex with men (MSM) newly diagnosed with HIV is increasing, from 2,860 men in 2010 to 3,360 men diagnosed HIV-positive in 2014
  • New diagnoses acquired through heterosexual sex has declined (from 3,440 in 2010 to 2,490 in 2014), largely due to a reduction in diagnoses among black African men and women (1,801 in 2010 to 1,044 in 2014)
  • Of all people attending for care in 2014, 91% were on antiretrovial therapy (ART), “of whom 95% were virally suppressed and unlikely to be infectious to others
  • 41% of those accessing HIV care are in London.

“A major challenge for the UK remains the timely diagnosis of HIV infection in order to start lifesaving ART and prevent onwards transmission of infection. Two out of five people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2014 had ‘late stage’ HIV, evidenced by a CD4 count below 350, and this remains stubbornly and unacceptably high (56% in 2005),” says the report.

A fifth (21%) of English local authorities had a diagnosed HIV prevalence above 2 per 1,000 in 2014, the threshold for expanded testing into general practice new registrants and hospital admissions. “This included all but one London borough. There is an urgent need to increase HIV testing opportunities and uptake for people living in these areas, in line with national HIV testing guidelines.”

Download your copy of the report here.

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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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Going to Hospital? – How about a HIV Test?

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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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It’s here! – NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK

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After last year’s successful National HIV Testing Week, it’s now established as a permanent part of the HIV prevention calendar.

New figures show there are over 1000 people living within Leicester and Leicestershire (757 city residents and 251 from Leicestershire)

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, centre director for Public Health England in the East Midlands, said:

“People who are unaware of their infection are likely to be those most at risk of transmitting HIV to others.  “Earlier diagnosis will help reduce new HIV infections across the UK.”

Jenny Hand, chief executive of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services, said:

“The big message we need to get out is that people need to know their status.  Getting a test is the one thing they can do right now to help stop the spread of HIV.”

We are working with Public Health England to extend the number of testing opportunities over the week.  One of the aims is increase the uptake of testing in the different African communities in Leicester.

The figures are only an indication of how many people are affected by HIV.”

Mike Sandys, Leicestershire County Council‘s acting director of public health, said:

“This is a good initiative. We need to encourage people to test because, in the vast majority of cases, HIV is passed on by someone who doesn’t yet know they have the virus.  Modern drug treatments drive down the level of virus in the body, often to an undetectable level.

This means someone with HIV who has tested positive and is on treatment is far less likely to pass on the virus than who someone who does not yet know they have it. So if everyone is tested, we could start to see new infections fall among our communities.”

Ms Hand also said:

“We hope the national week will help to really convince people they should know their status.  The test is a finger prick for blood and the results take 60 seconds.

HIV is now considered a long-term condition and not a terminal illness.  The biggest issue is still around stigma and discrimination.”

Rapid HIV testing is available at LASS, (53 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 6YF) and at other locations this week.

Not content to offer JUST A HIV Test, why not pop in today for a a general check up? – We’re offering a free testing for Diabetes, Blood Pressure, BMI, Blood Glucose and of course, a Rapid HIV Test.

We’re also on hand to provide information and advice on a range of subjects including tuberculosis, HIV awareness and Sexual health.

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