Major 3-year project secures nearly £500k in funding to tackle HIV inequalities in the African and Caribbean communities of Bristol

A major three-year-project is to launch in Bristol to work with people of African and Caribbean heritage to increase HIV testing and awareness and reduce the stigma of the virus. The project has been awarded a £483,697 Common Ambition Grant from The Health Foundation with the aim of reducing HIV health inequalities experienced by people of African and Caribbean heritage living in Bristol and the surrounding area.

The results achieved by this project will help Bristol achieve the goals set out by the global Fast Track Cities partnership which Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees signed up to in November 2019. These are to reduce new HIV transmissions in the city to zero by 2030, whilst at the same time eradicating HIV stigma.

The project will be run by Brigstowe, a Bristol-based charity for people living with HIV, in partnership with African Voices Forum, the NHS-led Unity Sexual Health, Bristol City Council and Fast Track Cities Bristol. Researchers from the University of Bristol (NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West [ARC West] and NIHR Health Protection Research Unit [HPRU] in Behavioural Science and Evaluation) will work in collaboration with community members to evaluate the project.

In Bristol, 2.7 people out of 1,000 aged between 15 and 59 are living with HIV. The rate has been steadily increasing since 2011 and is higher than the average for England (2.4 per 1,000 people).

Last year, an HIV Health Needs Assessment in Bristol found there was a disproportionate number of people of African and Caribbean heritage with undiagnosed HIV, late HIV diagnosis associated with poor health outcomes, and experiencing stigma which results in a lower uptake of HIV or other sexual health services.

Now the Common Ambition Bristol project will see health care professionals and researchers work in co-production with African and Caribbean communities in Bristol and the surrounding area to introduce ways to increase the uptake of HIV testing and broader sexual health services. They will also aim to reduce late HIV diagnosis and stigma in these communities in the area.

The project will run from January 2021 until December 2023 and will support people who, to date, have had limited voice and power to make decisions about their communities’ specific sexual health needs.

 

PROJECT PARTNERS

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. Our aim is a healthier population, supported by high quality health care that can be equitably accessed. We learn what works to make people’s lives healthier and improve the healthcare system. www.health.org.uk   

Brigstowe are a charity who support anyone living with or affected by HIV in the Bristol and surrounding areas and have been doing so for nearly 25 years. We strive for a world in which people living with HIV and other long-term health conditions live long and healthy lives, free from poverty, stigma, prejudice and discrimination. We are also committed to raising awareness of HIV amongst the general public. To find out more please visit www.brigstowe.org

Unity Sexual Health is a free NHS service providing STI testing and treatment, contraception and pregnancy advice for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. More information is available at www.unitysexualhealth.co.uk

The Fast-Track Cities initiative is a global partnership between cities and municipalities around the world and four core partners – the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and the City of Paris.

The NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at University of Bristol is one of 14 HPRUs across England, part of a £58.7 million investment by the NIHR to protect the health of the nation. Originally it was a strategic collaboration between the city’s three acute and mental health NHS trusts, the NHS BNSSG Clinical Commissioning Group, the two Bristol universities and Bristol City Council. Recently Sirona care & health, the newly commissioned provider of adult community health services across BNSSG, NHS Blood and Transplant from its Bristol headquarters and North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils have all joined the partnership.

Bristol Health Partners aims to maximise health research, and to transform the understanding, prevention and treatment of key health problems across BNSSG. The 11 organisations involved have formed Bristol Health Partners voluntarily, and it is funded by contributions from the partners. The Health Integration Team (HIT) model is unique to Bristol Health Partners and brings together all local experts, regardless of organisational affiliation, to focus on a specific topic or condition.

The Sexual Health Improvement Programme Health Integration Team (SHIP HIT) aims to transform services to improve sexual health for the people of Bristol and the South West. The HIT’s priorities include increasing HIV testing uptake; improving STI testing and responding to antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections; supporting patient and public involvement in sexual health and ending stigma; ending domestic violence; reducing health inequalities and developing a national network for sexual health improvement.