Tue 29 / 01 / 19
Stopping new HIV infections in Brighton & Hove
By Richard Howard
Brighton & Hove City Council, the Martin Fisher Foundation and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals are working in partnership as the first Fast Track City in the UK working towards ending HIV transmission across the city.
So what does Fast Track status mean for Brighton & Hove?
In a nutshell, the aim is to attain the UNAIDS global target of 90-90-90 and ZERO HIV stigma and discrimination by 2020. The targets are:
- 90% of people living with HIV know their status
- 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment
- 90% of those on treatment have undetectable HIV virus in their bloodstream
- Reduce to zero the negative impact of stigma and discrimination
How are we doing?
We know that Brighton & Hove (B&H) is already doing well in meeting these targets. In December 2018 we had achieved the following based on national data sets:
- 93% of people living with HIV know their status
- 99% of B&H residents living with HIV are on treatment
- 98% of those on treatment having undetectable HIV in their bloodstream and therefore unable to pass it on
We have accomplished this by a sustained increase in HIV testing in healthcare settings over the last decade, as well as more recently launching innovative projects such as the Martin Fisher Foundation Digital Vending Machines. The other game changer is PrEP (Pre exposure prophylaxis) which is almost 100% effective at preventing someone contracting HIV. We estimate over 350 individuals who are at greater risk of HIV are taking PrEP in B&H, not only protecting their own health, but also the health of the wider community.
HIV Stigma and discrimination are harder to measure but we know that fear of becoming HIV positive prevents people from coming forward for testing. Experiences of stigma and discrimination significantly impact on the quality of life of people living with HIV (PLWHIV). Local data shows that 37% of PLWHIV experience gossip and 22% experience verbal abuse in relation to their HIV status. Nationally 37% of PLWHIV do not feel supported in the workplace.
So, what is the plan now?
Our project plan includes delivery of HIV education to all healthcare organisations across the city, training for PLWHIV to challenge HIV stigma and further development of our public campaign on reducing HIV stigma. We will develop an education package for businesses and organisations to help them address stereotypes and misconceptions in the workplace. We will continue to explore innovative ways of promoting HIV testing in harder to reach populations and engage with communities to emphasise the importance of earlier diagnosis. We need to identify resources and capacity to deliver this.
What we need your help with now:
- Communications and PR expertise
- Fundraising experience
- Planning campaigns, writing bids and securing funding
- Spreading the word for us and circulating information and surveys
- Committing to an HIV stigma free business sector
Please contact us if you are interested in hearing more or would like to volunteer to assist us in this exciting, epidemic ending project.
Dr Eileen Nixon and Dr Gillian Dean
Thanks to Eileen for writing this blog.
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