HPE Conference 2020: Call for abstracts

HPE Conference 2020 - save the date - 18 February 2020

HIV Prevention England will be hosting the national HIV prevention conference on Tuesday 18 February 2020 in central London. Registration for the conference will open in November 2019 and attendance is free for all those working in HIV prevention.

The conference will provide a platform for open discussion as well as practical learning opportunities that delegates can take back to their organisations, clinics and other places of work.

Conference themes

HPE has worked with stakeholders across the sector to produce these conference themes. We welcome abstracts which can influence and contribute to good health, not only around HIV but also in the specialties of sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

Getting to zero – reaching the last 8%

  • Combination prevention: addressing communities beyond those already engaged with established prevention methods e.g. testing, PrEP etc.
  • Sexual networks: identifying and engaging ‘underground’ sexual networks affected by HIV and poor sexual health.
  • Prevention and attitudes to sexual health in non-metropolitan and rural communities.

Social justice: stigma, discrimination and inequalities

  • HIV, sexual and reproductive health inequalities in key population subgroups.
  • Attitudes to HIV and good sexual health in the era of Treatment as Prevention.
  • Language and terminology: the impact on community engagement.

Systems strengthening

  • Holistic approaches to HIV and SRH.
  • New models of prevention and care for people living with and affected by HIV and STIs, including primary and secondary health services.
  • Building sustainable partnerships outside the HIV sector.
  • Learnings from HIV prevention: how can these be applied to combat the rise in STIs?

Working differently: challenging status quos in HIV prevention work in the UK

  • Challenging silo-working and community gatekeepers.
  • Alternatives to the disproportionate focus on social marketing campaigns or biomedical interventions.

The future of commissioning

  • Approaches to increasing demand for integrated HIV and SRH services: preventing resource shortfalls and other system risks.
  • The role of the private sector: how can diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and mobile geo-networking app corporations maximise public health impact together with the HIV and SRH sectors.

Abstract submission process

Submission period now closed.

Rolling into a dream visit to a sexual health clinic

Guest blog by Lorraine Stanley, Managing Director, Sex With A Difference CIC.

My carers arrived on time this morning. I’m feeling fresh as a daisy and ready for close encounters of the genital kind. Childcare for my two children is in place. I’ve carved out a couple of hours free from my mum, who is also my carer. She is fantastic support, but like any able-bodied person, I don’t fancy discussing my intimate sex life in front of my mother! My electric wheelchair is charged up, and I have psyched myself up for having my nether regions explored by a complete stranger.

It’s a lovely sunny day for a roll across the park, and the access ramp to the GUM clinic is a good one, with a buzzer entry phone system and a door release button. This is really important to me as my arm strength isn’t good, and I don’t have anyone with me to help with heavy doors.

Like most people with access needs, I checked the clinic’s website for accessibility information like ramps before I made the appointment. On one occasion, the intercom and doorbell were both broken when I arrived at my local GUM clinic. After resorting to banging on the door, a member of the public in the waiting room heard me and opened the door. For anyone already anxious about attending a clinic, and not wanting to draw attention to themselves, this might’ve proved to be the beginning and end of their appointment.

The waiting area is really welcoming, much more like a regular doctors or dentists waiting area – very different to the feel of a sexual health clinic 20 years ago, where you’d feel ‘dirty’ just by being there.

The receptionists are smiley and professional, and the forms simple enough to complete. The receptionist offers help in filling in the form if I need it. On a ‘brain fog/butterfingers’ type of day, I would take them up on this. Thankfully it’s a low-fog day, and I am able to hold the pen myself.

Everything is calm and relaxed as I wait. I’m a bit early, having allowed extra time for hazards, obstacles, and lifts that might not be working. After a short wait, I am shown into a good-sized examination room, with plenty of turning space for my wheelchair. Staff offer help, but don’t force me to accept it by taking over, or try to move my wheelchair without asking.

We manage to have a chuckle over some of my sexual activities – it turns out most people don’t use the term “recreational sex” in their appointment. I’m a swinger, as and when my health allows, so the conversation about how many times you’ve had sex in the last few months and whether it was with a man or woman, makes things a bit interesting (I happen to be bisexual too).

My life partner Mike (also a swinger) enters into the equation as well, and I explain that I use sexual activity and orgasms as a form of pain relief as much as I can – it reduces my reliance on prescription painkillers and their side-effects (also saving some money for the NHS!).

How samples are taken has changed over the years. I am able to swab myself with some physical support from the nurse. Throat swabs are taken, and blood tests for regular screening such as HIV. As a firm supporter of safer sex, I see this as being the responsible adult actions of a sexually active person.

We also talk about contraception, any follow-up tests that might be needed, and whether I prefer contact by email etc. It’s just the right amount of banter and laughter during the consultation, and I roll out of the appointment feeling very satisfied that all necessary topics were covered, and armed with several leaflets for further reading.

On this occasion, I didn’t have to use stirrups, or get on the examination couch, but it was brilliant to see that the clinic room had a full hoist set up, so if I had needed to transfer out of my wheelchair, it would have been possible.

With a cheery goodbye and a wave to the reception staff, I press the open door button and off home I roll…

Some points to ponder if you provide a sexual health service in your community

  • On your website, do you provide access information regarding ramps; door access buttons/intercoms; induction loops; and how to request a sign language interpreter? Have you considered the needs of people with visual impairments?
  • Not all disabilities or conditions are visible. Clients on the autistic spectrum, and clients with learning disabilities or anxiety related conditions would really appreciate some photos of the entrance set-up of your clinic/ the reception area/ the treatment room (including the wheelchair friendly room).
  • Do you have a hoist with sling available for clients that may need to transfer out of a wheelchair onto an examination couch? If you do, have you made it clear on your website that they are in place? Have you provided the necessary staff training?
  • If you have stirrups available, could you highlight this on your disability access page? Any client living with conditions affecting their muscle strength and control would welcome the option of using stirrups.
  • Does your clinic have at least one treatment room that has plenty of wheelchair manoeuvring space? If you have, have you made it clear on your website? Bear in mind that some clients (myself included) use a large electric power chair, which needs more space than the standard self-propelled wheelchair. Providing room dimensions and the option to reserve this room would be even more welcome.
  • Do you provide ‘extra-time appointments’ on request by disabled clients? The physicality of hoisting/ transferring to and from a wheelchair, or indeed, extra-processing time for people with communication processing conditions (hidden disabilities) can eat up appointment time. If you do, have you made it clear on your website?
  • Your staff is your greatest asset when it comes to being disability-friendly. People that provide great service to clients in general are often disability-friendly by default. That great website that I keep mentioning? Highlight on it how welcoming and non-judgemental your staff are.
  • Do you provide an outreach service? Some people with disabilities are house-bound. Do you have an option for providing sexual health services to them?
  • As part of your leaflet displays, do you have any in easy-read format? People with learning disabilities find these simpler, picture-based leaflets more accessible.
  • Find a way to self-check for unconscious bias within your team – yes, disabled people are just as likely as an able-bodied person to have sex/ have children/ be LGBTQI+. If there is a need for additional training, provide it.
  • Do you have an independent living centre and/ or condition specific centres (like MS Society, Parkinson’s, etc) near you? Have a chat with them about displaying your leaflets in their venue, or even offering an information sharing session to them as part of a bigger event.

Find our further information on sex and disability at Sex With A Difference or by emailing [email protected]

Get ready for National HIV Testing Week 2019

This year, National HIV Testing Week starts on Saturday 16 November 2019.

National HIV Testing Week is a campaign to promote regular testing among the most affected population groups in England. This helps to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and those diagnosed late.

This year, the campaign will feature celebrities and influencers promoting ‘Give HIV the finger: a finger-prick test is all it takes’, a continuation of the successful creative that we have run for the last two years.

We are inviting organisations to participate by running campaign events, providing extra testing opportunities, and promoting HIV testing and prevention services with our support.

How to get involved

We encourage you to do whatever is best for your local area and community.

  • Order and use updated National HIV Testing Week branded posters and resources in your service (available from Friday 18 October 2019).
  • Organise local testing events in clinics and as part of outreach in community settings.

To find out more about how you can support this exciting event, read the campaign briefing that is relevant to you:

Case study: Delivering an HIV prevention workshop with DeafLGBTIQA

As part of Sexual Health Week 2019, which takes place from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 September, we look back at how partners in the HIV sector delivered an HIV prevention workshop in April 2019 with deaf LGBTIQA people.

HPE, along with the Bloomsbury Network, IWantPrEPNow and Prepster, supported deaf-led LGBTIQA group DeafLGBTIQA to host a successful workshop that provided HIV prevention training to more than 30 deaf people in London.

The event focused on HIV testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), as well as information on condoms and treatment as prevention.

This was the first event of its kind to be organised by DeafLGBTIQA. The group worked with the Bloomsbury Network at Mortimer Market Centre to host and provide expert speakers for the evening, as well as inviting a deaf person living with HIV to share their journey with the virus.

The aim of the collaboration was fourfold:

  • To raise awareness of the availability and types of HIV test to a population at risk of HIV.
  • To raise awareness of the availability of PrEP, including where to access it and how to take it.
  • To distribute condoms and HIV/safer-sex information resources to deaf LGBTIQA people.
  • And importantly, to raise awareness to health professionals who work in HIV prevention and health promotion of the barriers faced by deaf BSL users.

Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users often face issues accessing health information and initiatives due to ineffective communication from healthcare professionals, or even a complete lack of accessible means to receive the information.

Captioning and other text-based services can assist with relaying information, but face-to-face delivery from sexual health experts, via interpreters and in partnership with deaf role models, provides an engaging way to provide important information.

There are a number of barriers that hinder the provision of accessible information to deaf people, which can lead them to assume a service will be inaccessible by default. Health services are often developed in ways that adversely impact on the way deaf people can access them:

  • Telephony services can be a physical barrier to booking appointments or making contact with services.
  • There is a lack of awareness that not all BSL users have adequate literacy levels to understand clinical or technical language, or to be able to book appointments online.
  • Healthcare professionals often do not know how to book BSL interpreters, and some deaf people report services failing or refusing to book one.

Resources and support for the workshop, including funding for interpreters, were provided by HPE, IWantPrEPNow and Prepster.

DeafLGBTIQA was successfully able to create an accessible event for a community which are traditionally left behind or who’s needs are not fully considered. Some of the successes included:

  • Providing a safe and inclusive space for participants to discuss HIV and PrEP, which for many was the first time communicating with others on the subject.
  • Connecting 35 deaf LGBTIQA people with approximately 10 health and community professionals working in HIV and sexual health, who were able to learn about the different needs of deaf people.
  • Providing free condoms, lube and HIV/sexual health resources to attendees.

The event successfully raised awareness and knowledge in a number of key areas, given that some people attending the event had never heard about interventions like PrEP before. On a scale of 1-10, all the key areas covered by the workshop showed an increase in knowledge among attendees:

  • HIV: an increase from 6.9 before the event to 8.8 after.
  • HIV testing: an increase from 7.1 to 8.9.
  • PrEP: an increase from 5.0 to 8.4.

To find out how you can make your services and projects more deaf friendly, please contact Deaf LGBTIQA:

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @DeafLGBTIQA
Instagram: @DeafLGBTIQA

Further decline in new HIV diagnoses in the UK

New HIV diagnoses have fallen for a third consecutive year, the latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows. In 2018 a total of 4,484 people were diagnosed with HIV in the UK, a 6% reduction from the 4,761 diagnosed in 2017.

PHE has advised the intensification of combination prevention has been critical to the decline in HIV incidence in gay and bisexual men since 2012. Further information will be released in PHE’s annual report, which will be published in November.

The increase in HIV testing, access and availability to immediate antiretroviral therapy for people diagnosed with HIV, and the scale-up of access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have all played a role in the continued decline of new diagnoses.

The decline in gay and bisexual men

Since 2015 there has been a staggering 39% decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men. Within this group, the steepest declines have been recorded within men who are:

  • White (46% decline since 2015)
  • Born in the UK (46%)
  • Aged 15-24 (47%)
  • Resident in London (50%)

The biggest declines outside of London in gay and bisexual men were seen in:

  • West Midlands (47%)
  • Scotland (43%)
  • East Midlands (40%)

In 2018, two out of every five gay and bisexual men newly diagnosed with HIV lived in London.

The decline via heterosexual contact

During the same time period (2015-2018) the fall in new diagnoses from heterosexual contact was 24%. Within this group the biggest declines have been recorded in people who are:

  • Adults in London (40% decline since 2015)
  • Aged 25-34 (34%)
  • Born in Africa (24%)

Late diagnoses

There are still challenges for the sector despite the continued decline in new HIV diagnoses. In 2018, 43% of all diagnoses were late. PHE has once again repeated its warning that people diagnosed late face a ten-fold increased risk of short-term mortality.

Population groups with particularly high late diagnoses rates include:

  • Heterosexual men (60%)
  • Black African adults (52%)
  • Those aged 50 and older (59%)

People diagnosed late are more likely to experience an AIDS-defining illness at the time of their diagnosis: this was true of 225 people in 2018, a similar number to 2017.

People receiving HIV care in 2018

In 2018 there were 96,142 people receiving HIV care in the UK, of which:

  • 97% were receiving antiretroviral treatment
  • 97% of people on treatment were virally suppressed

The percentage of those receiving treatment was slightly less in 15-24 year olds and in people who inject drugs. Viral suppression was consistent across all population groups.

Trans people

For the second consecutive year PHE has supplied data on HIV diagnoses in trans people. In 2018, 11 trans people were diagnosed with HIV, which is a fall from 16 in the previous year.

The data from PHE now shows that 152 trans people were seen in HIV care in 2018. Of these, 33% were 50 or older and 39% were black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). All trans people seen in care were on treatment.

What this means for HIV prevention in England

The hard work to sustain the decline in new HIV diagnoses must continue. The combination prevention approach is working in the UK and efforts to increase awareness and knowledge of correct condom use, HIV testing, PrEP and HIV treatment are necessary to maintain this momentum.

Late diagnoses remain an area that the entire health system needs to take responsibility for, ensuring that all population groups have access to HIV testing. The HIV sector must work with primary and secondary care providers to increase opportunities for people to test outside of traditional sexual health services.

Particular attention needs to be paid to regions outside of London and to those subgroups which are not seeing as large declines in new diagnoses as witnessed in white gay and bisexual men.

National HIV Testing Week presents the next opportunity for the sector to continue to increase HIV testing and reduce late diagnoses in all groups affected by HIV across England. The campaign starts Saturday 16 November 2019. Stay informed with our plans for the campaign by signing up to our newsletter using the form on this page and following us on Twitter.

New local PHE indicators

PHE has announced a number of new HIV indicators on its Fingertips online sexual and reproductive health profiles. In addition to existing measures including HIV testing coverage and new HIV diagnoses rates you can now access local and regional information on:

  • Late diagnoses rates for MSM, heterosexual men, heterosexual women and people who inject drugs
  • Repeat HIV testing in MSM within the past year
  • Prompt ART treatment initiation in people newly diagnosed with HIV

PHE Fingertips webinar

If you would like to know more about PHE’s online health profiles, join us at 1pm on Tuesday 24 September for our webinar looking at getting the most out of PHE’s fingertips tool.

Find out more and register for this event

Official Statistics from PHE

Read HIV annual data tables