Solent NHS Trust is delivering an end to HIV inequalities
Solent NHS Trust is using this year’s annual World Aids Day on 1 December to highlight the ease of access to HIV screening, preventable medications, and treatments, as part of the aspirational 2030 plan to end new HIV infections in local UK communities.
This year’s theme is Ending health inequalities and Solent NHS Trust has worked with commissioning partners and local authorities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to ensure at risk of HIV and those living with HIV have access to a range of therapeutics, including PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. This involves taking pills containing the drugs Tenofovir and Emtricitabine, a treatment acknowledged to reduce risk of transmission of HIV to sexual partners when taking in advance of sexual contact.
Councillor Karl Love, Cabinet member for Public Health, said: "I have seen the devastation which HIV causes to people's lives living both on and off our Island and I never want to see that again. If you're sexually active, regular sexual health checks via clinic appointment or online testing, are a great way to take care of your health. Being able to accept who we are — communicating with one another sincerely and being able to seek support in all things, but especially in matters of love and passion — is a wise and positive thing.
"If you are at all worried about anything to do with your sexual health, why not talk to our excellent sexual health team, get things checked out and live a wonderful, healthy life."
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, many health services were forced to move increasingly online for safety. Whilst Solent’s Sexual Health team continued to see the most urgent cases, including HIV patents via face to face appointments, the services’ digitally advanced offer enabled users to register online, have telephone appointments with clinicians and, in many cases, receive treatments anonymously to their preferred choice of address.
Solent NHS Trust’s Clinical Director for Sexual Health, Clare Scholfield, said: “We are delighted to see that more service users than ever are embracing the new technology and engaging with our service to ensure they receive the vital care they need, in a way that is most convenient for them. We know that early diagnosis and intervention is important for any sexual health issue and Solent wants to myth bust all the falsehoods around HIV. PrEP is an important treatment for prevention of HIV which can be accessed through our clinic. We know that people can live a good quality of life and protect their sexual partners from contracting HIV, they just need the right support to do it and our Let’s Talk About It service is here for this.”
Anthony Young, Health Promotion Specialist at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “As well as being a time to remember the millions of lives lost to HIV, World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come since the early days of the epidemic and to look to the future at what is still to be done.
“HIV treatment is one of the greatest successes of modern medicine – people on effective treatment can’t pass on the virus and can expect to live just as long as anyone else. This would have been unimaginable 40 years ago.
“However, we must acknowledge that the fight is not over. Today we’re working towards ending HIV transmission in the UK by 2030 – testing is key to this. The earlier people are diagnosed, the quicker they can get on to treatment and live a long and fulfilling life.
“In Solent, we are working alongside our colleagues from Sexual Health Services Solent NHS Trust to achieve the 2030 goal. We deliver online outreach to provide information, advice and support around sexual health and HIV to communities who are least likely to access services – primarily men who have sex with men, sex workers, and Black African and Caribbean communities. We also signpost people to the Solent service by advertising in local testing clinics and supporting and platforming local campaigns and initiatives.
“We can end new cases of HIV 2030 – but everyone needs to play their part. Tackling HIV stigma is a priority, so this World AIDS Day, we are encouraging the people of Solent to shout about the progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV and to be an ally to people living with HIV today, and every day.”
Solent NHS Trust is offering face to face appointments and services can be accessed from locations across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.