Tag Archives: Sexually transmitted disease

HIV positive patients fail to disclose their infection to NHS staff

trustinthenhs

A significant proportion of HIV positive patients may not be disclosing their infection to NHS staff, when turning up for treatment at sexual health clinics.

This is the finding suggested by preliminary research published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

If the findings reflect a national trend, this could have implications for the true prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection in the population, which is based on the numbers of “undiagnosed” patients at sexual health clinics, say the authors.

Currently, it is estimated that around one in four people in the UK who is HIV positive doesn’t know they’re infected with the virus.

The estimate is based on several sources of data, including the GUMAnon Survey, which routinely looks for HIV infection in blood samples taken from patients to test for syphilis at one of 16 participating sexual health clinics across the UK.

The results are then matched with the individual’s diagnostic status—whether they had been diagnosed before their arrival at the clinic, or were diagnosed at their clinic visit, or left the clinic “unaware” of their HIV status.

It is thought that a proportion of patients who do know their HIV status nevertheless choose not to reveal it to NHS staff when attending for services elsewhere.

To test this theory, the researchers analysed all HIV positive samples from one participating GUMAnon clinic in London in 2009 for the presence of very low viral loads— a hallmark of successful drug treatment—and various antiretroviral drugs.

Of the 130 samples which matched clinic records, 28 were from patients who were not known to be HIV positive before their arrival at clinic. Ten had been tested for HIV at their clinic visit.

The remaining 18 did not have a test at the clinic, and were therefore classified as undiagnosed. Yet almost three out of four (72%) of these samples had very low viral loads, indicative of successful drug treatment.

Only eight samples were of sufficient volume to be able to officially test for antiretroviral drugs, but evidence of HIV treatment was found in all of them.

“This is the first published objective evidence that non-disclosure of HIV status as a phenomenon exists in patients attending [sexual health] clinics in the UK,” write the authors.

“Given the high proportion of individuals classified within this study as [non-disclosing], the extent to which these findings can be extrapolated to other clinics, and the degree to which they may influence estimates of the proportion of undiagnosed HIV in the community, warrants further study,” they conclude.

The reasons why they don’t come clean(sic) about their HIV status may be that they don’t want to be “judged,” given that they have come to the clinic with another infection, which implies they are indulging in risky sexual behaviour, suggests lead author Dr Ann Sullivan of London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

But by not revealing their HIV status, they could be missing out on the chance to be treated more holistically and discuss other aspects of their health which might be affected by HIV, she says.

Original Article via Onmedica, taking medical information further.

DISCUSSION:

The comment by Ann (above) implies NHS staff are predisposed with attitudes toward sex.  Especially when using phrases like “when they don’t come clean” – However, NHS staff; particularly those within genitourinary medicine should not assume those who wish to have a HIV test participate in “risky sexual behaviour” as for a lot of people, HIV infection can simply occur when the HIV status of a sexual partner is positive, but not known and undiagnosed, then innocently passed to another (which is why is it recommended that condoms are used if the HIV status of the other person is unknown.

Do you have an opinion on this? – Let us know in the comments below.

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Heather Alcock, policy advisor for the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS joins LASS.

Heather Alcock at the LASS AGM 6th October 2011

Heather Alcock presenting certificates to volunteers at the LASS AGM 6th October 2011

Heather Alcock, policy advisor for the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & AIDS has agreed to join the LASS Board of Trustees as a co-opted Trustee.

This is great news for us and will give us a good profile nationally as well as influence with local MPs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS is a backbench cross-Party group of MPs and Peers in the UK Parliament at Westminster.

MPs and Peers who have joined the Group have done so because they are concerned about both the devastation that HIV and AIDS are causing in developing countries and about their impact here in the UK including in our constituencies.

They believe that as parliamentarians they should play their part in addressing the HIV epidemic. In particular they say they have an important role in ensuring that laws and policies are respectful of human rights and promote public health.

On their website, you can read reports published by the Group, see examples of where we have raised issues about HIV and AIDS in Parliament and find out how to stay in touch with their work.

They say;

We value very highly the advice, guidance and support that we get from people living with HIV, NGOs and professionals outside Parliament. We hope that this website not only increases the information people can obtain about the Group, it also increases the dialogue between politicians and the people who are coping with the reality of life with HIV.

Please join us in welcoming Heather Alcock to our Board of Trustees.

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Unsafe Sex in the City

Tonight, BBC3 will go behind the scenes of a sexual health clinic for a new four-part documentary, Unsafe Sex In The City.

The documentary explores the dangers faced by young people who have unprotected sex and follows the stories of patients whose passionate encounters have led to physical and emotional anguish.

The programme goes behind the scenes of a sexual health clinic in Manchester, with staff recounting traumatic stories as well as sharing humorous anecdotes about their efforts to protect youths from sexually transmitted infections.

The show isn’t typical family viewing, but parents of teenagers and sexually active people may want to consider it.  Tonight’s patients include 22-year-old Kervin, who forgot to “strap up” before a one-night stand; a pink-haired 17-year-old who doesn’t believe in monogamy or protection; and a smooth-talking womaniser who’s far less full of himself after being interrogated and prodded by a no-nonsense nurse.

A BBC spokesman added: “BBC3 are excited to have access to one of the country’s busiest sexual health clinics.”
The show airs tonight at 9pm on BBC3, repeated at 12:15am on Thursday morning (25th) – Then again on Saturday 27th at 3:05am – or view it on BBC iPlayer.
 
WE’LL BE WATCHING TONIGHT WITH TWITTER!
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TRADE Sexual Health – 160 People Tested at Leicester Pride 2012

Trade Sexual Health is a HIV & AIDS prevention charity based in Leicester for people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

They provide free and confidential advice and support to anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, men who has sex with men or women who has sex with women.

The city of Leicester has the fastest-rising HIV rate in the east Midlands and the sixth-highest in the country.

Leicester GU accompanied Trade on site providing HIV tests for the community alongside other activities.  LASS would like to say a big thank you, and congratulate Leicester GU with Trade for achieving 160 Kwik Prick, Rapid HIV Tests for the community.  Here’s an update on their day, from Trade:

Breaking Record! 160 People Tested at Leicester Pride 2012

Now at the forefront of sexual health, Trade Sexual Health joined forces once again with Leicester GUM Clinic to provide the Trade Health & Wellbeing Marquee at Leicester Pride 2012!

Our nationally recognised Trade GU clinic at Leicester Pride tested a record 160 people. All 160 had a full sexual health screening beating last year’s 136. With infection rates increasing, and undiagnosed HIV on the rise, this was a fantastic achievement, Thank you to the 160 people who tested.

Pride goers took part in fitness classes, had health checks, accessed information, booked in for a free massage and visited a host of other health and wellbeing stands in the Marquee. As usual Trade brought along a load of resources and goodies and we launched our new health campaign raising awareness of STIs. The willy sweets promoting this campaign seemed to attract a lot of attention.

We managed to give out roughly 3,000 free condoms to those present on the day.

Thank you to everyone who came along; to Leicester Pride, Leicester GU, sponsors, all the volunteers, staff and our committed Board of Trustees, for a fantastic day.
We are confident that we will build on this success and provide an even bigger and better Trade Marquee next year.

Tradesexualhealth.com

If that wans’t enough Gay Pride for you, we were there too! – Click this to find out more.

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HIV Awareness “Drops Off Radar”

Listen to this article instead: [audio http://www.lass.org.uk/files/uploads/120808.mp3]

It’s claimed infection rates are still high and many people don’t understand what it’s like living with the illness.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show there were nearly 6,000 confirmed cases in adults across the UK in 2011.

In the last five years nearly 3,500 16 to 24-year-olds have been diagnosed.

Paul Steinberg is a sexual health expert based in Lambeth, south London.

He said: “I think it’s a fair point to say awareness of HIV generally has dropped off the radar for a lot of people in this country.”

Paul believes the medical advances made in treating HIV over the past decade have led to people becoming more complacent and taking more risks.

He also says the increased focus on other, more common, STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea means young people aren’t as educated as they should be on HIV.

“If someone is diagnosed with chlamydia then we can give them some antibiotics and they will be cured,” he said.

“Although HIV is not a death sentence any more, if someone does get diagnosed it’s a long-term, long-lasting condition.

“It’s not the same as having chlamydia or gonorrhea which can be treated.”

Infection myths

Sarah, which is not her real name, is 25 and was born with HIV.

She agrees there are too many young people who don’t know enough about the virus.

Sarah’s been doing work with the charity Body and Soul, which has launched a campaign called Life In My Shoes to challenge people’s misunderstandings of HIV.

The Department of Health recently announced £8m would be spent on raising awareness of HIV in England over the next three years.

The bulk of that money will be given to The Terrence Higgins Trust, one of the UK’s leading sexual health charities.

Genevieve Edwards from the Trust agreed more work needed to be done.

She said: “There’s a new generation who haven’t had basic training.

“The government is funding us to target our campaigns for those most at risk, which are gay and black and African communities.

“However, it’s true to say much more can be done for the population as a whole and generally young people.”

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Sex education: we should teach young people about more than the mechanics

Sex education: too much emphasis on the mechanics, says Doortje Braeken, who argues for more teaching about sexuality. Photograph: David Levene (The Guardian)

Sex education polarises opinion, sets legislators against parents and parents against schools and regularly inflames media opinion. Somewhere in the middle sit young people: ill-served, receiving confused messages and gaining their information from famously unreliable sources, such as peers or the internet.

Sex education, as all too many experience it, is like teaching people how to drive by telling them in detail what’s under the bonnet, how the bits work, how to maintain them safely to avoid accidents, what the controls do and when to go on the road. It’s all about the mechanics. And that’s it.

There’s a growing consensus that young people don’t need sex education, they need comprehensive sexuality education or CSE..  CSE is sex education plus: the mechanics, plus a lots more about sexuality.

That means not just teaching young people about the biology of sex, but also teaching them about the personal, emotional, societal and cultural forces which shape the way in which they choose to conduct their lives. Armed with this understanding, young people can make far more considered decisions.

This approach has the potential to unite the warring factions that bicker over the fundamental rights and wrongs of sex education: CSE equips young people with basic biological knowledge, but at the same time it equips them to question why they act in certain ways, and whether or not it is right, valuable or desirable to do so. CSE imparts information, and promotes responsibility.

CSE contains components which allow learners to explore and discuss gender, and the diverse spectrum of gender identities that exist within and between and beyond simple heterosexuality. It also contains components that examine the dynamics of power in relationships, and individual rights.

These are not taught as theoretical concepts. They have serious practical effects on the way in which young people interact with each other, both in the sexual and the wider social and educational spheres. Studies have shown that addressing such issues can have a marked impact both in school and the expansion of young people’s social networks.

CSE also engages with what some doubtless regard as difficult territory. Sexuality – however, individually, we choose to regard it – is a critical aspect of personal identity. The pleasure that we derive from sexuality, even if that pleasure is the pleasure of feeling that a reproductive duty is being fulfilled, is a vital part of our lives: it’s what makes us human. CSE views sexuality as a positive force.

CSE exploits a variety of teaching and learning techniques that are respectful of age, experience and cultural backgrounds, and which engage young people by enabling them to personalise the information they receive.

What is most telling is that a large number of studies have reached the clear conclusion that CSE does not lead to earlier sexual initiation or an increase in sexual activity. To paraphrase, traditional sex education seems to say: “If you’re going to do it, this is how everything works and you need to protect yourself in these ways to prevent this.” CSE says all that, but it also asks young people to ponder what exactly “it” is, and to deepen their perception of its implications.

In a political environment which is quantitatively driven, we measure the success of sex education in straightforward health behaviour indicators. These are easy to manage: numbers which build on existing health surveillance and measurement systems, and which are simple to understand from an objective point of view.

However, CSE is a far more nuanced discipline, and it will be necessary to include other measures of programme success: qualitative, subjective indicators which relate to gender equity, empowerment and critical thinking skills.

While governments have recognised young people’s right to CSE via various intergovernmental resolutions and conventions, the journey from recognition to delivery will be a long one. Even in the UK, there are notable differences, with England having a bare-bones biological approach “puberty, menstruation, contraception, abortion, safer sex, HIV/Aids and STIs should be covered”, while Wales and Scotland have curriculums which incline far more towards the CSE agenda.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, the organisation I work for, and its 153 member associations around the world, has been instrumental in pressing for the adoption of international policy commitments to CSE. For many, it may seem like we are pushing 10 steps ahead of the agenda when the basic principle of young people’s right to even the most basic introduction to the biology of sex is still not universally accepted.

Our view is different: it is that CSE is what will secure widespread acceptance of sex education, because it is about more than the mechanics of sex. It is about helping young people, the world over, to become more healthy, more informed, more respectful and more active participants in the life of their community and their nation.

Doortje Braeken is the IPPF’s senior adviser on adolescents and young people, responsible for co-ordinating programmes in 26 countries implementing a rights-based approach to youth friendly services and comprehensive sexuality education. She will be among the panellists for a live discussion on sex and sexuality education, taking place on the SocietyGuardian site from noon to 2pm on Thursday 31 May

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Ambassadors on ‘HIV Heart to Heart’ campaign face death threats

English: The Red ribbon is a symbol for solida...

Reverend John Kwashie Azumah, Minister of the Gospel at Mount Zion Evangelical Ministries and member of ambassadors on HIV Heart to Heart campaign has said “the team had received threats on their lives since they went public with their HIV status”.

He said “those who attacked him included both Christians and non-Christians and they accused him of being a false prophet and a disgrace to the pastoral calling and therefore vowed to eliminate him, his wife and children”.

Rev Azumah who is also the National Chairperson of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS, Ghana Chapter (INERELA+gh) disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said “although he was worried about the development, but was not afraid because he believed God was using him to tell a story to all those who were pretending to wake up to the reality that HIV and AIDS was no longer an issue of morality but a medical condition“.

Rev Azumah said “while it was globally accepted that HIV was no longer an issue of morality but a medical condition, many were yet to comprehend that the disease was no respecter of persons and its mode of transmission was diverse”.

He said “there was no need to cry over spilt milk, nor [lose valuable ideas], but to hold the bull by the horns and deal ruthlessly with the problem and help give hope to the many people living with the disease and further help eliminate stigma and discrimination”.

Rev Azumah said “stigmatising a person with HIV was in itself sin against God and encouraged all who were affected and infected with HIV and AIDS to strictly adhere to their medication and nutrition guidelines instead of substituting them for prayers from purported ‘Men of God'”.

He said “he was determined and committed in spite of the difficulties they faced from all angles including family, friends, communities to use the “Heart-to-Heart Media Campaign” to eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS and achieves“zero discrimination” and ultimately a “zero infection””.

Rev Azumah appealed to the media, especially the electronic media to be circumspect in the their diction on issues relating to HIV and AIDS and give accurate reports devoid of all the unnecessary colouring that demean and further stigmatizes people living with the disease.

Mrs Mercy Acquah-Hayford, National Coordinator of INERELA+gh, appealed to religious bodies to offer positive messages that would give hope to persons living with HIV and not condemn them especially those who had boldly and openly declared their status and champion the fight against stigma and discrimination.

She said “some purported religious leaders often deceive unsuspecting and desperate people living with HIV to abandon their medications and substitute them for prayers and after they had deteriorated, were sent off to die away from their prayer camps”.

Mrs Acquah-Hayford advised people living with the disease to take their medications and support them with prayers for spiritual fulfilment and the possibility of total cure.

She appealed to Ghanaians to understand the fact that HIV was real and could affect anyone without caution, therefore the need to support those who had been bold to tell their story and encourage others to follow suit for treatment and care to help halt the spread of the virus and save a generation from the pandemic.

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