National HIV Testing Week Round Up

National HIV Testing Week 2017 launched with much excitement and many activities happening around the country.

On Wednesday 15 November, 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.

He met with Andrew Bates, a young man who was diagnosed with HIV in 2015, who shared his story and talked about the importance of testing. Prince Harry also met Yvette Twagiramariya, a reporter and one of the faces of the It Starts With Me campaign, who took a live HIV test to show him how the self testing kits work.

The Prince met and talked with some local Hackney residents, and gave each of them one of the self testing kits to take home.

Government and political activity

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.

The rate of late diagnosis is also decreasing gradually, although it still remains unacceptably high.

Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV Surveillance at Public Health England (PHE), said: ‘This year, there are three firsts in the 30-year history of the UK HIV epidemic.

‘In London, all the global UNAIDS 90:90:90 targets have been met [;] … HIV transmission among gay and bi men has fallen [;] and the death rate among people with HIV who are diagnosed promptly and on treatment is now comparable to the rest of the population. We celebrate these extraordinary achievements which are the result of a comprehensive response involving many key players and organisations. By continuing to invest in effective preventative measures … the elimination of HIV transmission, AIDS and HIV-related deaths could become a reality in the UK.’

In support of National HIV Testing Week 2017, PHE expanded availability of free HIV postal test kits to all areas of England. The additional tests are available to order until Thursday 4 January 2018. Last year more than 20,000 tests were ordered during a similar period and we anticipate that even more will be distributed this year.

This year we had more MPs than ever test for HIV. 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.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd took the blood test, as did Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Public Health Minister Steve Brine and Labour’s Liz Kendall to promote National HIV Testing Week.

Ms Rudd and a number of MPs tested in their parliamentary offices, while others attended the Terrence Higgins Trust headquarters in London or visited local services in their constituencies.

Afterwards, the Home Secretary tweeted: ‘Despite the look on my face, the pain wasn’t that bad! Just took an HIV test with Terrence Higgins Trust to raise awareness for HIV Testing Week.’

Other MPs who also took HIV tests include: Labour’s Sarah Champion, Peter Kyle, Lilian Greenwood, Gareth Snell, Ian Austin, Thangham Debbonaire, Tracy Brabin, Thelma Walker and Alex Norris, along with Stephen Hammond, Tom Pursglove and Jon Ashworth from the Conservatives.

Mr Kyle, MP for Hove, told the BBC: ‘HIV is a long-term manageable condition and the earlier the diagnosis, the better it is for the patient, so it’s important to get tested no matter who you are.

‘The fear and stigma surrounding HIV is still a barrier to testing, so I hope I’ve shown today that having a test is fuss-free and easy and that I can help make the stigma and fear around HIV a thing of the past.’

Local activity

The GMI Partnership, consisting of Positive East, METRO and Spectra, also launched National HIV Testing Week locally by holding a large-scale rapid workplace HIV testing initiative with Tideway. Tideway is a huge construction project, with approximately 1,000 people on site daily.

Newham CCG staff and partners kick-started a new local HIV programme with a workplace testing event on Friday 24 November, demonstrating a commitment to enhanced HIV testing efforts. A total of 28 staff got tested and the event also received coverage in local media.

Barts Health NHS Trust, in partnership with Waltham Forest Council, provided a range of briefing sessions on HIV and hepatitis C as part of National HIV Testing Week. All the sessions were open to anyone working in a healthcare setting and had a good turnout.

Local authorities commissioned extra activities and promotion in their respective areas, including Croydon, Redbridge, Sutton, Kingston, Hertfordshire and Manchester.

Clinics and community organisations prepared more than 300 additional testing events around the country for people to participate in, which were promoted through the It Starts With Me website. These tests and other events such as information stalls occurred in clinics, pharmacies, libraries, colleges, night venues, and mobile testing buses in Birmingham, Kingston, Redbridge, Buckinghamshire, Somerset, Blackpool, Walsall, Lancashire and many other areas.

Organisations including Terrence Higgins Trust and The Brunswick Centre also gave media interviews to raise awareness of HIV testing during the week and to dispel the stigma people affected by HIV face.

Campaign results

Dr Graham Mackenzie, a Consultant in Public Health, kindly mapped out the Twitter impact of the campaign over the course of the event, and has published a blog showing the results. Over a 17 day period, there were 7,113 tweets from 3,138 contributors, an estimated audience of 19.4 million individuals and 47.5 million impressions.

We are still in the process of gathering data to evaluate the overall campaign. Kantar Public is currently conducting an independent evaluation into the overall reach and impact of National HIV Testing Week to target communities. At the same time, we are putting together an in-house evaluation of the other aspects of the campaign including social media activity, resources ordered, tests delivered, and media coverage.

Your feedback is valuable to us. Please complete a brief, five minute survey to tell us about your experience during testing week and how we can improve in the future.

Thank you for all your support, enthusiasm and dedication to stopping HIV in the UK and participating in National HIV Testing Week to help achieve this goal.

GMI Partnership launches National HIV Testing Week in London with large-scale rapid workplace HIV testing

On Tuesday 14 November The GMI Partnership, a consortium of three charities, (Positive East, METRO and Spectra) will be launching National HIV Testing Week with a large-scale rapid workplace HIV testing initiative.

Tideway is a huge construction project, located near Vauxhall, upgrading London’s infrastructure with approximately 1,000 people on site. Tideway is getting involved with National HIV Testing Week by providing workplace HIV testing alongside the GMI Partnership.

The GMI Partnership will be providing a range of services on the day, including:

  • Confidential rapid HIV testing.
  • Information and resources on sexual health and services available across London (as well as free STI screens if requested).
  • Linking people with sexual health clinics for those who want extra support.
  • Referrals to clinics for those testing reactive or needing emergency post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment.
  • Information about how to access pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), including the PrEP Impact trial.
  • Free condoms and lubricant.
  • Referrals into counselling services for those worried about the risks they are taking with their sexual health.
  • Promoting the HIV support services we provide across the GMI Partnership partner agencies.

The GMI Partnership is committed to reducing the onward transmission of HIV, and stopping the stigma that can surround testing.

For more information on this and other National HIV Testing Week events by The GMI Partnership visit their website.

Support We Started Something on Facebook

If you work for a sexual health or HIV organisation, or a Local Authority Public Health team, you can use these suggested Facebook posts to support the We Started Something campaign.

We Started Something is the summer campaign for It Starts With Me, celebrating the progress that people have made in stopping HIV in the UK and encouraging everyone to continue to play their part.

How to use the suggested posts

1. Go to Facebook and start a new post. Copy and paste the text of one of our suggested posts, including the bit.ly link. It is important to ensure that you copy the link as it leads to a specific page relevant to the call to action of each post.

2. Download the selection of images provided and choose one to share with your post.

3. And… post!

At the bottom of this blog we’ve also included a few email banners for you to use.

Suggested post 1

In the UK we’re testing more for HIV than ever.

But still about 13% of people living with HIV in the UK are not aware they have it. Most new HIV infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV.

Find out if you need to test: http://bit.ly/2wgNVev

Download images for this post

Suggested post 2

The number of people living with undiagnosed HIV in the UK is the lowest ever.

Most new HIV infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV, so we can’t stop until everyone is diagnosed.

Find out if you need to test: http://bit.ly/2wgNVev

Download images for this post

Suggested post 3

People are starting treatment sooner than ever.

However, about 39% of adults in 2015 found out they had HIV when it may have already damaged their health. The sooner you find out you have HIV, the better it is for your health.

Find out if you need to test: http://bit.ly/2wgNVev

Download images for this post

Suggested post 4

More people with HIV are on treatment in the UK than ever before and many are now starting treatment early to protect their health and to stop them passing on HIV to others.

Find out more on how treatment is helping to stop HIV: http://bit.ly/2tTYsvk

Download images for this post

Suggested post 5

Someone on effective treatment with an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV to others which will help us end the epidemic once and for all.

Find out more on how treatment is helping to stop HIV: http://bit.ly/2tTYsvk

Download images for this post

Suggested post 6

Most new HIV  infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV – so we all need to look after ourselves. Condoms are the best barrier against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.

Find the best condom for you: http://bit.ly/2w126oC

Download images for this post

Suggested post 7

Most new infections come from unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know they have HIV – so we all need to look after ourselves.  Condoms, treatment and PrEP help to protect from HIV infection.

Find out how to stay protected: http://bit.ly/2uTEbr6

Download images for this post

 

We Started Something email banners

Simply right-click the banner you prefer and choose the option to save the image to your computer.

 

Watch the National HIV Prevention England Conference

On Thursday 18 May, HIV Prevention England hosted its biennial national HIV prevention conference in central London.

Key highlights of the conference included:

  • Overview of the changes in new diagnoses rates in London and across England; and the part which combination prevention plays on HIV incidence.
  • Update on the state of the upcoming PrEP IMPACT trial set to start in summer 2017.
  • The effect of rapid initiation of treatment on HIV transmission (Treatment as Prevention).
  • Presentation on the current state of investment in HIV prevention and testing services in England

Download the livestream programme [PDF]

If you experience any issues with the broadcast please email hpe@tht.org.uk.

Assisted HIV self-testing and self-sampling by community-based organisations in England

There has recently been a move towards online provision of HIV self-testing and self-sampling for people to test themselves. Our local activation partners, the GMI Partnership, comprised of Positive East, METRO and Spectra have been looking at how self-testing and self-sampling can be incorporated into current and future community-based HIV testing and outreach services.

There are questions about how community-based organisations can incorporate self-testing and self-sampling in their work, in order to increase access to testing for those who need it.

The GMI Partnership is a consortium of three community-based agencies (Positive East, METRO and Spectra) who provide sexual health promotion and HIV prevention services across London. In collaboration with Freedoms, the GMI Partnership deliver condom distribution and an outreach service for men who have sex with men (MSM) funded by the pan-London HIV prevention programme, as part of the Do It London campaign. Dee Wang, Research and Performance Manager at Spectra, tells us about how they are addressing self-testing and self-sampling.

‘Conducting extensive surveys via Grindr and through our face-to-face work in high-risk venues, we asked high-risk MSM about self-testing and self-sampling in a community-based setting,’ she said. ‘What we found was that community-based testing and outreach complements self-testing and self-sampling.’

Of the 2,889 MSM who undertook their survey over Grindr:

  • Only 22% understood the difference between self-testing and self-sampling.
  • Of those who did understand the difference, 30% still preferred to be tested by a professional.
  • Of the 2,889 men, 33% would prefer to be coached on how to self-test or self-sample before doing it themselves.

‘This data indicates that there is still work to be done around informing the community on the differences between self-testing and self-sampling (especially as this was a relatively HIV literate group, with 73% and 71% having heard of PEP and PrEP respectively),’ Dee said. ‘Secondly, it shows that there will always be a group of men who prefer to be tested by a professional.’

‘The finding which also stood out was that 33% of the MSM surveyed would prefer to be coached in the use of self-tests/ self-sampling tests before doing it themselves,’ said Dee. ‘These findings led us to develop the GMI community coaching model.’

GMI community coaching model

The GMI Partnership now provides community coaching with HIV testing. ‘We coach individuals on how to use both self-testing kits, and self-sampling kits. If desired, we then use the self-test kit as a point-of-care test (POCT),’ explains Norman Gillard, one of the GMI Partnership Outreach Coordinators from the METRO Charity.

Of the 159 men who GMI have so far provided with community coaching:

  • 96% agreed that they were able to better understand how self-testing for HIV works after being coached.
  • 80% felt more confident with the GMI worker supporting while doing a self-test.
  • 69% believed that they would be more comfortable to test themselves next time.

‘The GMI Partnership has always recognised that for many individuals, community-based services are the first step in a health care journey from an outreach venue into a clinic. The same may be true with self-testing and self-sampling. With the coaching model, 69% of individuals felt more comfortable with testing themselves in the future,’ Norman pointed out.

‘Still, we need to recognise that there will always be those who need to test but who would rather access services in their own community settings’.