All posts filed under: News

HIV self tests now available in North thanks to legal change

From yesterday, following a legal move1 made by the North’s health minister, it is now possible to buy HIV self-testing kits and to test yourself for HIV. Speaking on World AIDS Day, [Simon Hamilton MLA] said: “The change in the law will allow HIV self-testing kits to be sold to the public in Northern Ireland. Some people are reluctant to get tested for a number of reasons, including stigma and a fear of being judged, so self-testing will have an important role in reaching those who are not using existing services.”—DHSSPS press release 1 Dec 2015. Testing at home is only one option of many available. There is also the more traditional route of going to the GUM clinic at one of several hospitals, or going to your own General Practitioner. There are also rapid testing projects at The Rainbow Project and Positive Life. It should be borne in mind, however, that a home test may produce a false positive result or that the test may not be correct because of the window period. False reassurance may be …

36% increase in HIV diagnoses over last five years in Northern Ireland

The figures recently released by Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency show some worrying figures. I sincerely hope that the Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, and the Health Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly take them to heart and work to make them better. The figures show that in the ten years since 2004, Northern Ireland has had a 47% increase in new HIV diagnoses compared with a UK reduction of 20%. In the last five years, Northern Ireland has the greatest increase of new HIV diagnoses among the four countries of the UK at 36%, compared with the overall reduction of 8%. It seems that England and Scotland are doing very well in reducing HIV diagnoses. Both Wales and Northern Ireland need to work on what they are doing. I am sure that The Rainbow Project and Positive Life will have ideas on how to promote better sexual health. Hopefully the PHA’s own public information campaign launched earlier this year, ‘Choose to protect yourself – always use a condom’, which encourages people to take steps …

Unlicensed Cambodian doctor jailed for 25 years for spreading HIV

After Cambodian authorities detected an epidemic of HIV when they started testing a community in the Battambbang province, in the remote north-west of the country. They found more than 270 cases including people in their 80s and one who was aged 2 years. Today an unlicensed medical practitioner was convicted of murder, and sentenced to 25 years in prison for spreading HIV. The provincical court judge, Yich Na Chheavy told a packed courtroom, “The court found Yem Chrin guilty of operating health treatment without license, injecting people with syringes that spread HIV and torturing peopled to die.” News: Reuters

LibDem calls for PrEP via UK NHS on #WAD2015

On World AIDS Day the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Health, Norman Lamb called for the HIV-preventative drug Truvada or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to be made available via the UK’s National Health Service. With more than 6,000 more people becoming infected with HIV in Britian in 2013, he says that it is clear that efforts to combat the virus are not working. Norman Lamb MP said: “It beggars belief that there is a drug which has been shown to be effective in preventing infection with the virus, but which has still not been made available on the NHS. We need to stop brushing the issue under the carpet and start to take HIV prevention seriously. “I am urging the NHS to take urgent action to halt the spread of HIV by making PrEP available to people considered to be at high risk of catching the virus, without further delay. This could have an enormous impact on the lives of countless numbers of people in high-risk groups, and will turn out far cheaper than our current strategy of …

#WADirl launched by Irish Health Minister

The Irish Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD last week launched the first ever five-day national World AIDS Day campaign in Ireland. This campaign is developed by NGOs and statutory bodies across Ireland in partnership with the HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme. The focus of the Irish campaign is Solidarity with all people living with HIV, both those who know they are living with HIV, and those who don’t. The campaign has been running since 27 November 2015 and will run until World AIDS Day on the 1 December 2015, and aims to raise awareness about the many issues that present themselves for people living with HIV and those at risk of contracting HIV. First 5 day national World AIDS Day campaign launched by @campaignforleo today #WADirl https://t.co/tq2shMQtW7 pic.twitter.com/QNacBqq3K5 — HSE Ireland (@HSElive) November 26, 2015 The key messages of HIV Visibility, HIV Stigma, HIV Support and HIV Knowledge are being promoted through a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter asking people to show their solidarity with people who are living with HIV. They can …

#StandUpToHIV – AVERT campaign tackles fears of HIV

46% of people living with HIV do not know they have it. Stigma surrounding HIV remains one of the biggest reasons people are not testing.  To mark World AIDS Day (1 December 2015) HIV charity AVERT has launched an animation to help people overcome fears and worries about HIV – something which is stopping millions of people from getting tested for the virus. Yesterday they launched their Stand Up to HIV campaign to challenge people to overcome their fear of HIV. They want to encourage testing for HIV by promoting knowledge of the facts about HIV and living with the virus and by challenging HIV stigma. With World AIDS Day (1st December) just around the corner, we must all support others to stand up to fear, stand up to HIV and get tested. Avert recognises that HIV stigma is a huge barrier to getting tested. To tackle this they have developed a new webpage that talks people through the most common concerns regarding HIV. We have also launched an animation to help people overcome their …

A bit of a bounce last week…

It was results time last Tuesday morning when I visited the Royal Victoria Hospital’s GUM clinic for possibly the last time. Since diagnosis my CD4 count has been rather on the low side, on diagnosis, it was 100, and has dropped to 80, before climbing up to above 200. Last Tuesday morning I got told that it was over three hundred! As I said on Twitter: #bounce VL <70. CD4 = 330 and 20%. #bestever couldn't have done w/o help from @BelfastTrust @belfastwriter and @PositiveLife_NI — John [HIVBlogger] (@HIVBlogger) March 25, 2014 The Viral Load count was a little bit higher than I should have liked, but there you go. The other problem is that I have been suffering from a bad cold/possible ’flu for the last couple of weeks. Now that my immune system is actually starting to work of course I feel my body trying to attack whatever it is that I have. Previously, it did not do this (for obvious reasons) and although I felt ill, it was just like being ill normally with HIV. …

HIV healthcare workers – response from NI Department

Hearing the news that the UK Department of Health is relaxing the current restrictions on healthcare workers living with HIV working in the NHS, I contacted the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the DUP’s Edwin Poots MLA, asking what plans he had for introducing this here in Northern Ireland. Whilst I was having my complementary therapy at Positive Life, a response arrived in my inbox. I was informed of the statement made by a DHSSSPS spokesman earlier today, The Department is aware of the position taken by the Department of Health in England in relation to HIV infected healthcare workers and proposals to relax current restrictions on their practice.  The Minister will receive advice on this issue shortly, which includes the outcome of a Northern Ireland consultation, and will announce his intentions in due course. I welcome that the Minister is going to receive advice shortly and to announce his intentions in due course, I can only hope that the Minister will actually follow the advice, and follow the lead of the …