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National HIV Testing Week

National HIV Testing Week (NHTW) is a targeted, high profile, national campaign that encourages England’s key populations most affected by HIV to consider taking an HIV test. These groups include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and African people. HIV Prevention England (HPE) organises and delivers NHTW.

HPE is the Government-funded national HIV prevention programme. HPE is a partnership of organisations drawn from the voluntary, public and private sectors. It is managed by Terrence Higgins Trust and supported by BHA for Equality, Sigma Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, MBARC, NAM Publications and Yorkshire MESMAC. HPE is accountable to Public Health England.

Aims

The aims of National HIV Testing Week are:

  • To increase testing among England’s key populations most affected by HIV - MSM and African people.
  • To increase awareness and acceptability of HIV testing among these groups.
  • To increase access to HIV testing in both community and statutory settings in order to improve early diagnosis and treatment of HIV (and thus reduce onward transmission).

Impact and evaluation

During National HIV Testing Week 2013, the number of HIV tests taken in GUM clinics increased significantly among MSM aged 25-34 (the target age group of the campaign) and among Africans. During the same period, HPE funded an additional 3,365 HIV tests: 1,429 tests were given in community settings and we delivered 1,936 postal testing kits. These would not have taken place without NHTW. Additionally:

  • Over 340 organisations endorsed NHTW, provided extra services or ordered NHTW resources. They included NHS organisations, Local Authorities/public health units, private healthcare providers, businesses and community-based organisations.
  • Many celebrities endorsed NHTW and we aired our first ever HPE television advertisement.
  • Almost 1 million resources (965,065) were ordered from us.
  • 10,000 people visited our websites.
  • 1,000 people ordered HIV postal testing kits. Of those returned, 1.4 per cent were reactive.
  • 452 mentions were made about NHTW in traditional media publications (more than three times the figure in 2012). This generated 279 million opportunities for people to see the coverage.
  • Social media:
  • 5,448 followers of the NHTW Facebook page.
  • 762,176 people saw content from our campaign It Starts With Me in November.
  • 18,236 engagements (‘Likes’, shares, comments).
  • Outdoor advertising (media, bus stops and bus backs) was carried out in HIV high prevalence areas.

Evaluation also found that NHTW had a widespread facilitative effect by triggering a range of activities around HIV testing, and its promotion, that would not otherwise have happened. Survey respondents reported that:

  • New and innovative ways of reaching communities outside of traditional clinical settings were established.
  • Drop-in centres delivered Point Of Care Testing (POCT) with no need for a prior appointment. This attracted people on impulse or who would not have ordinarily visited a GUM centre.
  • NHS services and Trusts stepped up to the challenge of increasing capacity in their GUM centres by opening for longer or by offering HIV testing in non-GUM secondary care departments such as contraception, sexual health, outpatients and Accident and Emergency (A&E).
  • Temporary pop-up testing centres appeared in places of worship, town centres, town halls, pharmacies, bars, youth centres, saunas and universities.
  • Access to testing was increased by extending the availability of testing times, widening the target groups and working with new partners.

NHTW unlocked local resources and triggered a significant investment from Local Authorities (with whom responsibility for HIV prevention rests), local NHS trusts and local community groups.

How to Get Involved

NHTW welcomes the participation of anyone offering free HIV testing to England’s key populations affected by HIV (gay and bisexual men and African people) – including those who provide activities with them that promote testing. Resources are available to support your plans (see ‘Useful Links’ below).

Anyone whose work reaches England’s key populations is also invited to support NHTW with their own activity. Almost 40 HPE Local Delivery Providers organise community events, one-to-one and group-based outreach and enhanced testing activity in support of the week.

Activities can include:

  • downloading the NHTW logo and using it to promote awareness
  • ordering and displaying NHTW posters locally
  • organising coverage in local media, including local radio, in the run up to and throughout NHTW on how and where people can test locally
  • telling us about your plans (see ‘Useful Links’ below) so that we can tell people about them when they visit our websites
  • working in partnership with other local organisations including the NHS, Local Authorities and community groups to promote testing and increase uptake
  • encouraging local dignitaries and other well known local figures to speak about the importance of HIV testing and consider taking a test to demystify the process
  • ‘Liking’ the National HIV Testing Week Facebook page.

Useful Links

Know Your Needs (www.tht.org.uk/knowyourneeds)

Knowing the needs of your local area is the best way of understanding what is working and what needs to improve. You can find out how your area is doing in comparison to the national average for HIV prevalence and late HIV diagnoses by using our online tool.

Resources (www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/Resources)

Leaflets, posters (including versions with spaces for your local details), T-shirts and other resources are available each autumn to help you promote NHTW.

Briefings (www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/Resources/National-HIV-Testing-Week)

Specialised briefings suggesting how key organisations can get involved with NHTW are available for download.

These are written for:

  • clinicians
  • commissioners
  • faith leaders
  • Local Authorities (Directors of Public Health and Health and Wellbeing Boards).

Plans (www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/plans)

The national campaign encourages key populations to find out more about HIV prevention by visiting It Starts with Me.

Supporters 

National HIV Testing Week has quickly gained in popularity and become established throughout England. It has been very well supported across the entire HIV sector and its success inspired international agencies to launch European HIV Testing Week in November 2013. You can view a list of supporters and their messages of endorsement here.

Social Media

Contact

If you have any questions about National HIV Testing Week please send an email to: mark.kenwright@tht.org.uk