Positive East’s Inaugural Faith Symposium

Positive East Faith Symposium, May 2018

Our Local Activation Partner Positive East reports on the success of their first ever Faith Symposium, held in May 2018 in London.

‘As faith leaders we work to create healthy and caring communities that support people living with and affected by HIV.’

These words spoken by Apostle Segun George, the Cherubim & Seraphim Church, Mount Zion (Jesus-Saves) are testament to the role that faith can play in the HIV response.

In London, HIV in black African people accounted for 51% of all heterosexually acquired cases in 2016. Of this group, 53% were diagnosed late and accounted for 21% of new HIV diagnoses. It is estimated that, in London, 600 black Africans are living with HIV without knowing it.

Positive East, recognising that religion can play a major role in the life of black African people, coordinates the East London Community Faith Forum. They work with faith leaders, who have the reach and influence to fight HIV-related stigma and promote HIV testing. With an aim to tackle stigma and discrimination and promote HIV testing, the Forum suggested Positive East host a symposium for faith leaders talking about HIV themes including ‘hope’, ‘love’ and ‘compassion’.

The inaugural symposium was held on Saturday 12 May 2018. It brought together faith leaders, individuals and drivers of change, those living with and passionate about the fight against HIV, as well as people of faith and representatives of HIV charities.

Highlights and outcomes

Representatives were delighted to hear from a range of powerful speakers. Most notably, Horcelie Sinda Wa Mbongo set a powerful tone to the day ahead by sharing her journey with HIV.

Her story inspired other people in attendance to share their personal experiences, some who had been living with the virus for over 25 years. The event aimed to break the silence around HIV-related issues and this occurred from the outset with testimonies shared of people living well, finding love and being able to have children born without HIV.

Positive East’s African communities’ coordinators had the opportunity to educate the symposium with the latest HIV innovations and up-to-date research, including Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and the global ‘U=U’ (‘undetectable equals untransmittable’) campaign as well as information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The event gave an opportunity for faith leaders to reflect on their involvement in HIV advocacy. A poignant moment of the event came when one pastor requested forgiveness, on behalf of all faith leaders, for failing people living with HIV.

Next steps

The symposium recommended the implementation of workshops and training for both faith leaders and congregation members. Events were proposed with a focus around National HIV Testing Week and World AIDS Day.

Positive East is hopeful that the symposium will lead to an increased interest in African churches wishing to work in partnership with them in East London. They aim to continue to build upon the hard work the event generated and encourage more faith leaders to open their doors to the delivery of HIV awareness training and testing in their churches.

If you are a faith leader based in East London or are interested in getting your local faith community involved with Positive East’s work, please contact [email protected]

HIV Prevention England GP Engagement Strategy

HIV Prevention England GP Engagement Strategy banner

In 2016, 42% of people were diagnosed with HIV late in the UK – and late diagnosis leads to a tenfold increase in mortality compared to those diagnosed promptly (Public Health England (PHE), 2016). People outside London, of black ethnicity and those over 50 are most likely to be diagnosed late (PHE, 2017).

A key priority of the national HIV prevention programme (HPE) is to reduce late diagnosis by increasing HIV prevention and testing among GPs and other primary care providers. To achieve this, we have launched a new GP Engagement Strategy [PDF] which outlines the activities and approaches which we will adopt.

The average adult visits their GP at least three times a year (The King’s Fund, 2016). In contrast, the last national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles (Natsal-3) found that (Tanton et al, 2018):

  • As few as 4.9% of sexually active adults attended a sexual health clinic (SHC) in the last year.
  • More than 80% of those who reported having condomless sex had not attended a SHC in the last year.
  • 65% of men and 77% of women who had never been to a SHC were more likely to seek treatment from their GP instead.

Despite the challenges associated with delivering HIV testing and prevention interventions in primary care, GP-based HIV testing and prevention is essential for many reasons, not least that the national guidelines strongly recommend increased GP testing in areas of high and very high prevalence of diagnosed HIV.

HPE will provide significant opportunities to support GPs and primary care practitioners, through National HIV Testing Week, providing free patient resources, information briefings for professionals, and providing sector development training events.

Download the briefing

HIV Prevention England GP Engagement Strategy [PDF]

Get involved

HPE provides resources and training. If you work in primary care:

  • Take advantage of our free patient resources.
  • Sign-up to our monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our latest news and events (complete the form opposite).

Forthcoming events

HPE will be attending the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Annual Primary Care Conference & Exhibition in October, we welcome delegates to visit our stand in the exhibition space to talk to us about our work.

In late October we will be hosting two events for GPs and people working in primary care on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV testing in both London and Manchester. Contact us if you would like to register your interest.

National HIV Testing Week starts Saturday 17 November 2018.

Save the date: National HIV Testing Week 2018

Save the date for NHTW 2018 - Saturday 17 November

It’s less than four months until National HIV Testing Week starts on Saturday 17 November 2018.

The purpose of the week is to promote regular testing among the most affected population groups and to reduce the rates of undiagnosed people and those diagnosed late.

In the UK, the combination prevention approach to HIV means we are witnessing a substantial decline in HIV diagnoses for the first time.

However, the work must not stop here. There was a small increase in late diagnoses between 2015 (39%) and 2016 (42%), which means testing is still as important as ever.

National HIV Testing Week puts a national spotlight on HIV testing

National HIV Testing Week provides amplified opportunities for individuals who would otherwise never test to do so, and prompts all individuals at risk to get tested. Last year:

  • Prince Harry attended the opening of Terrence Higgins Trust’s HIV self-testing Pop-up Shop in Hackney, London, to launch the national campaign at the highest level.
  • On the same day, Public Health England (PHE) released new figures which showed that the drive to increase HIV testing is having an impact, with a 21.8% drop in the number of people who are undiagnosed and do not know that they are living with HIV.
  • More MPs than ever tested for HIV in 2017. We worked in collaboration with Yorkshire MESMAC, The African Institute of Social Development, Staffordshire Buddies, Sunrise Family Support, Trade Sexual Health, LASS, Summit House, The Brigstowe Project and The Brunswick Centre to test 16 MPs all around England.
  • Clinics and community organisations prepared more than 300 additional testing events around the country for people to participate in.

Help make this year’s event a success

Preparations for National HIV Testing Week 2018 are well underway. To keep up to date with the latest news, information and how to get involved, sign up to our newsletter.

Social media pack for summer campaign 2018

I'm Stopping HIV - Sadiq

We have created a social media pack to help you promote the HIV Prevention England summer campaign on your social media. The campaign launched on Monday 18 June 2018.

Theme

The campaign will be raising awareness and promoting actions of the various ways to prevent HIV such as condoms, testing, PrEP and treatment.

The tagline for the campaign is ‘I’m stopping HIV.’ and an explanation of which prevention tool used will follow. The people featured in the campaign images and videos are a mixture of people living with and without HIV.

Hashtag

This year’s summer campaign hashtag is #ImStoppingHIV.

Hashtags are not case sensitive so using #imstoppinghiv would work as well – we’ve just used capitals to make it easier to read what the hashtag is about.

What’s in the pack?

Images: a selection of images for use on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any another social network.

Links: to information on the various ways of preventing HIV. There are links to interactive tools that:

  • Recommend the best condom to use,
  • assess when someone should get tested,
  • help to choose a type of test based on preference and suitability,
  • help to find local testing services.

Suggested posts: examples of posts for Facebook and Instagram as well as tweets for Twitter.

Videos:
I’m stopping HIV
I’m stopping HIV – Summer

Downloads

What we are asking people to do?

Our summer campaign calls to action are:

Be educated: learn what the four different ways to prevent HIV are and why they are important.

Make changes: we want people to know how to reduce the risk of getting HIV by:

  • choosing the right fitting condom
  • finding out if they need to get tested for HIV, where to do it and the different ways they can via the tools on our website,
  • understanding what PrEP is, how it works and how to access it,
  • encouraging people living with HIV to access and adhere to treatment for health benefits for themselves and for the added advantage of not having to worry about passing it on to anyone else.

Pass it forward: share the information from the campaign messages with friends, family and on social media.

Report puts spotlight on needs of women affected by HIV

Terrence Higgins Trust and Sophia forum recently launched  ‘Women and HIV: Invisible No Longer’, a report to bring attention to the needs of women living with or affected by HIV. It was co-produced with women living with and affected by HIV.

The report was developed using existing evidence and new data generated with over 340 women through surveys and workshops.

It focuses on all women, including trans women, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, whether they do or do not have children, or are pregnant or not.

Key Findings

Some of the key findings include the following:

  • Almost half (45%) of women living with HIV in the UK live below the poverty line.
  • Over half of women living with HIV in the UK have experienced violence because of their HIV status.
  • Nearly one third (31%) have avoided or delayed attending healthcare in the past year due to fear of discrimination.
  • Two thirds of women living with HIV (67%) are not satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Two in five women living with HIV (42%) said that HIV impacted their decisions on whether to have children.
  • Despite this, half of women living with HIV (49%) described their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, while a further 38% called it ‘acceptable’.
  • On HIV prevention, little effort has been made to define who the women at risk of HIV are.
  • Nearly half the respondents (42%) felt that barriers prevent them from testing for HIV.

Read the full report (PDF) or the executive summary (PDF).

Five key asks

The report details a number of recommendations but the writers of the report have five key asks that summarise the changes needed to ensure that women’s needs are met  appropriately in HIV prevention, care, support, research and data in the UK.

  1. Achieve gender parity in the UK HIV response, ensuring equitable investment, priority and attention to women in HIV prevention, research, data and services.
  2. Ensure that HIV research addresses specific knowledge gaps around HIV and women and supports the full participation and meaningful involvement of women.
  3. Prioritise reducing late diagnosis of HIV among women, better explore the use of innovative HIV testing approaches, and improve rates of HIV test offers and uptake in different settings.
  4. Improve data collection and disaggregation on HIV and women, ensure local level data is available, and include sexuality data for women in national reporting.
  5. Invest in HIV support services that meet women’s needs holistically and enable women to not just live well but to thrive, including peer support and support for mental health and gender-based violence.