World AIDS Day 2021
LSTM lights up red
World AIDS Day is held every year on December 1st and is an opportunity globally to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate the lives of those we have lost to HIV.
For the fourth year, a part of LSTM estates will light up red to mark World AIDS Day. LSTM is one of the many well-known landmarks throughout Liverpool’s city region that does so to raise awareness and support those who are living with HIV.
We are also ‘Championing HIV testing’ and making a pledge to ‘End HIV stigma one conversation at a time’.
People living with HIV who are on treatment and who have an undetectable viral load CANNOT pass HIV onto anyone else. In other words, Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U.
40 years of HIV/AIDS
To date, more than 76 million people have been infected with HIV, and in 2020, WHO reported that there is approximately 38 million people currently living with HIV globally.
This year we acknowledge 40 years since the first reported cases of HIV and how far we have come since then, with the number of new infections declining due to the availability of successful HIV antiretroviral treatment, PrEP (treatment you can take to prevent HIV infection), early access to diagnostic testing, and education.
Know your status
The global UNAIDS targets are that 95% of people living with HIV- know their status and that 95% of those are on treatment and 95% of people on treatment are virally supressed by 2025. Of the estimated 701 individuals in Liverpool living with HIV, 93% of these know their status, 99% of whom are on therapy and 97% of those being virally supressed and therefore cannot pass the virus on to anyone else.
Think about it…. If everyone knew their HIV status, we could eradicate HIV 2030! Therefore, our key priority in Liverpool is increasing early testing and diagnosing people who are currently unaware of their positive HIV status.
LSTM working in Liverpool to help deliver more integrated health pathways.
LSTM is a key partner in Liverpool Fast Track Cities Initiative, working in partnership with Liverpool City Council, Public Health Liverpool, Axess Sexual Health (NHS), and Sahir House HIV Charity. Our aim is to reduce the proportion of residents living with undiagnosed HIV through accessible high-quality service delivery, support, information, and choices to people living with HIV in our city. We want to make our care pathways stronger, more integrated and eliminate stigma.
HIV STAR self-testing initiative
LSTM are key partners in the Unitaid funded HIV STAR Initiative, which has provided over 4.8 million HIV self-tests across Southern Africa increasing testing coverage among vulnerable, underserved and key populations. We wanted to utilise this knowledge and experience from the global south and bring it here to the global north- Liverpool and provide HIV Self-Testing to our local community through an LSTM Directors Catalyst Award, led by Dr Victoria Watson, which aimed to understand and overcome the key barriers to HIV testing and reduce late diagnosis.
LSTM HIV self-testing programme in Liverpool
The key objectives of this work were to identify the barriers and facilitators to the uptake of HIV testing within Liverpool, secondly to explore the feasibility of HIV self-testing in addressing these gaps and thirdly, to design a tailored small HIV self-testing pilot with the aim of increasing uptake of HIV testing- therefore increasing our first UN 95 target and also reducing late HIV diagnosis.
We worked with key community leads and listened to members of the community to help design the pilot. One community member response that really stood out was ‘As soon as it becomes something out of the norm, not the usual then it becomes a chore’, when asked to elaborate on this the individual stated that they had wanted to go for testing for a while but kept putting it off.
We worked with the Liverpool Pharmacy Committee to bring onboard six community pharmacies willing to dispense the HIV self-tests locally, which allowed easy access to tests in a trusted environment.
The pilot results showed that 53% of tests accessed were by individuals testing for HIV for the first time, with an additional 25% having last tested over a year ago. The pilot successfully showed that HIV self-testing is an innovative accepted way to increase HIV testing uptake within previously untested populations in Liverpool.
UK AIDS Memorial Quilt exhibition
1st Floor exhibition space, 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool L1 0AN.
Sahir House have organised an exhibition of a selection of the UK AIDS Memorial Quilts at 24 Street Kitchen Liverpool, from 1st Dec – 5th Dec. As part of Fast Track Cities, LSTM has provided free HIV Self-Tests for the event if anyone wishes to ‘know their status’.
End HIV Stigma…One conversation at a time
LSTM Research partners at Sahir House will be launching a Virtual Vigil at 4pm on their YouTube Channel on World AIDS Day 1st December 2021
This will be a live launch with contributions from partners and supporters making the pledge.
End HIV Stigma…One conversation at a time. The live event will include the Remembrance List. The event will be available to view after this time however the remembrance list will not be included.