As we navigate new ways to deliver care and support through online services, it’s important to ensure the safety and security of people accessing these services, especially where their personal information is concerned.
The following information provides some guidance for people working in HIV and sexual health organisations who are currently delivering services through popular webinar, virtual meeting and video conferencing platforms.
Platforms and applications
Zoom has become the video conferencing platform of choice for most organisations and the majority of information herein will refer to this application. However, there are alternatives available:
Suitable for work with service users
- Google Duo provides video conferencing for up to 12 people and is available via web and mobile devices. Video and audio calls are end-to-end encrypted.
- Webex is a popular video conferencing and webinar platform already used by many businesses. Video calling supports end-to-end encryption.
- GoToMeeting provides a similar service and includes end-to-end encryption as standard. There are no free plans.
Suitable for work with teams and colleagues
- Microsoft Teams is a ‘full-package’ collaborating tool which is one of the most comprehensive options available; with good security features and streamlined synchronisation with other Microsoft Office applications. However, it can be complicated and clunky compared to Zoom, which is simple and straightforward to use, or other options.
- Skype, Slack (paid plan only) and Facebook Messenger provide means to communicate by video but without full end-to-end encryption.
Using Zoom safely and securely
There has been noticeable media attention relating to ‘zoombombs’ in which uninvited trolls enter meetings and disrupt them by talking over meeting hosts or sharing undesirable content via video or screen share options.
There are some simple steps to avoid this practice:
- Do not share Zoom meeting numbers publically, send the joining information in private emails to registered attendees.
- Create a new meeting ID for each event or meeting rather than using your own personal meeting ID.
- Create a password for your meeting, and never share this publicly.
- Enable a waiting room (see advanced options), this will allow you to block anyone from joining who you were not expecting.
- As a meeting host you can decide whether you want to give all meeting attendees the option of sharing their screens.
- Once all of your attendees have arrived you can lock meetings to prevent anyone else from joining.
Hosts can record audio and video from meetings and capture the chat function via meeting reports, including private 1-2-1 conversations between attendees.
- Hosts should advise people in advance if they intend to record and share webinars and other educational meetings.
- Avoid discussing confidential matters with other attendees if you do not want the information shared with the meeting organiser.
Zoom provides a comprehensive guide to security of their platform including information on:
- Protecting your meetings
- Protecting your data
- Protecting your privacy
If you are concerned about the security and privacy in relation to providing services where personal information may be shared (for example online counselling), read more about Zoom’s security features and specific information regarding encryption for meetings.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created the biggest public health challenge in living memory. As the NHS continues to respond to the pandemic, the HIV and sexual health sector has adapted quickly to continue to support the populations it serves.
Our health systems and services delivered by the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector are finding new ways to deliver care and support by telephone, online and via their communication channels.
The following information provides sector guidelines for people working in HIV and sexual health, including resources for communities in response to the challenges coronavirus have presented.
Guidelines for health and sector professionals
British HIV Association (BHIVA)
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH)
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FRSH)
FRSH, BASHH and BHIVA
The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH)
Community resources and information
Terrence Higgins Trust
NAT (National AIDS Trust)
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Migrants Organise, and Medact
Correlation Network, Europe
World Health Organisation (WHO)
As new information arises we will update accordingly.
Despite the excellent headway the UK has made to reduce new HIV transmissions, stigma is prevalent and may curtail our ambitions for ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.
- Stigma is a barrier to people testing and accessing biomedical interventions such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
- Stigma affects the wellbeing, health and overall quality of life of people living with HIV.
We have produced a national faith engagement strategy which aims to increase the involvement of faith leaders and communities in challenging HIV-related stigma, supporting the uptake of HIV testing and prevention, and promoting the good health and wellbeing of people living with HIV.
Faith leaders are well-respected role models in their communities; they have the ability to reach people who do not necessarily access health services, and they have a role in supporting efforts to end discrimination against marginalised people.
HIV Prevention England (HPE) will provide opportunities to support faith leaders and communities, including through National HIV Testing Week, providing free resources, information briefings, and sector training events.
Download the strategy document
HIV Prevention England Faith Engagement Strategy [PDF]
HPE provides resources and training. If you are a faith leader or work with faith communities:
- Take advantage of our free resources.
- Sign-up to our monthly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our latest news and events (complete the form opposite or below).
National HIV Testing Week starts Saturday 16 November 2019.
This year, World AIDS Day is on Sunday 1 December 2019.
Ahead of our summer campaign, HPE has launched a new resources portal featuring an easy-to-use interface for ordering campaign materials and merchandise.
Award-winning HIV prevention leaflets, posters and other promotional materials are available to all organisations in England engaged in HIV prevention. These include GP surgeries, clinics, statutory services, colleges, universities, and community organisations.
Register your new account and order your free HIV prevention resources today.
This year’s National HIV Testing Week is fast approaching (Saturday 17 November) and it’s time to start shouting about it on social.
We’ve created a social media pack to make it easy for you to get involved and promote local activities, as well as the opportunity to order a free postal test through It Starts With Me.