Community Engagement Meeting 7th December
On 7th December we held a lively Community Engagement event with 35 attendees from a whole variety of organisations. The meeting was particularly exciting as Public Health England had just released their annual HIV data confirming that Brighton & Hove had now reached:
93:99:98 by the end of 2017, compared to 87:98:98 at the end of 2016!
That is, 93% of people living with HIV are now aware of their diagnosis, a whopping 99% of residents are accessing treatment, and 98% of those people have well controlled virus i.e. they are unable to pass the infection on to others.
Councillor Daniel Yates opened the meeting by explaining the structure of the Towards Zero HIV Task-force (diagram 1) and what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months. More details are available in our Year One Report.
Dr Gill Dean presented the latest data and explained how we may now have as few as 140 individuals in the city with undiagnosed HIV, and that our success was down to ‘combination prevention’ and collaborative of stakeholders across the city.
She explained the number of new diagnoses in Brighton & Hove is falling each year. In 2013, 76 individuals were diagnosed, but by 2018 this has fallen to just 33 (57% fall). This is on a background of increased levels of HIV testing. She also outlined the new PHE testing recommendations for the general public.
The current PHE recommendations for HIV testing for the public are:
- All men who have ever had sex with another man should have an HIV test even if they consider themselves to be heterosexual
- Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men should have an HIV test at least annually, or 3 monthly if having UPSI with new or casual partners
- Black African men and women, and people born in countries where HIV is common, should have an HIV test, and repeat annually if UPSI with new or casual partners
- Anyone who is diagnosed with HIV should accept the clinical recommendation that they start treatment immediately
The chairs of the 3 implementation groups gave more detail about current projects and what’s planned. Eileen Nixon presented fascinating HIV-stigma data for Brighton & Hove (Positive Voices survey 2017) which worryingly showed 79% of respondents had negative experiences when accessing healthcare, with half of these naming dentists as their main area of concern.
BUT the real reason for having the event was to find out what the delegates thought we should be doing… and here’s some of what they said:
- Even though the number of new cases is falling, we must avoid complacency – taking our ‘eye off the ball’ at this stage would undo much of the good work already acheived.
- As the testing and treatment targets are met, we must re-focus on HIV related stigma, and the quality of lives of people living with HIV (PLWH).
- Develop education packages for businesses, allied services (e.g. NHS mental health, substance misuse, dentists) and organsiations where HIV disclosure is a requirement e.g. tattoo / piercing, insurance.
- Develop toolkits for a) PLWH to manage stigma – build resilience to challenging life events b) for anyone to challenge stigma/discrimination when they come across it.
- Maximise social media, links, and communications, involve local celebrities.