Scotland can claim a number of advancements in tackling HIV– harm reduction, increased testing, reduced undiagnosed, and excellent treatment services.
HIV Scotland has played a key role in all of these developments but only through the relationships with organisations and people living with or affected by HIV.
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Here are some of our most recent achievements:
Following the publication of the HIV Scotland report PrEP in Scotland a Short Life Working Group has been established bringing together key advisors from the NHS, Third Sector and Scottish Government. Using the report as a basis this group will provide recommendations to the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Executive Leads on initiatives and strategies relating and strategies relating to PrEP in Scotland.
In response to a change in the law on the sale of instant result HIV self-testing kits in Scotland, we brought together key stakeholders to identify potential challenges/opportunities and consider next steps. We then produced guidance on self-testing which addressed key questions and recommended good practice – the first of its kind in the world, our guidance has since been used internationally as an example of good practice by the World Health Organization. We now lead a Scottish Working Group which brings together partners from across Scotland to develop key initiatives and strategies relating to self-testing for HIV in Scotland.
HIV Scotland leads and co-ordinates national campaign activities in Scotland for World AIDS Day, via the Scottish World AIDS Day Action Group (a coalition of health boards and third sector organisations). In 2014 we developed a campaign encouraging people to take action to prevent new cases of HIV and to challenge stigma. We produced resources which were circulated and used by health boards and other third sector organisations across Scotland; we also engaged local and national media in supporting the campaign and co-ordinated more than 80 landmarks and buildings across Scotland turning their lights red to mark World AIDS Day, and held a parliamentary reception to raise awareness and ensure HIV remains a priority.
Each year HIV Scotland pulls together the views of people living with HIV in Scotland into a single document: the Positive Persons' Manifesto. This sets out the key challenges people living with HIV in this country face, and their priorities for change. The 2014 Manifesto is based on the views of people living with HIV who attended the 2014 Positive Persons' Forum, and those who could not attend but contributed online. This year, the key areas that people living with HIV identified as challenging and in need of change were: disclosure, employment, ageing, welfare, healthcare and patient involvement, policing and crime, and education.
In addition, through the Positive Speakers Programme, we have supported and empowered people living with HIV to speak about their lived experience to public sector leaders and policy makers. A number of positive speakers, as HIV Scotland volunteers, have now been specifically trained to inform and educate audiences about their experiences of living with HIV. Successful speaking engagements have taken place across Scotland and additional media training has been provided to our volunteer speakers.
HIV Scotland published a guide to HIV key facts for Police Scotland to ensure that all police staff know how to respond appropriately to someone living with HIV. This was a partnership led by HIV Scotland, with Police Scotland and the National AIDS Trust. This was the culmination of several years of work with Police Scotland, who have now made the guidance available to their 21,000 staff, with feature articles about it being promoted through their internal communications. We now also sit on relevant Police Scotland Reference Groups and are using our position to explore the possibility of producing investigation guidelines for the criminal transmission of HIV.
We have produced a guide specifically to encourage the direct involvement of people living with and at risk of HV in the design and delivery of services. This was created as a direct consequence of people living with HIV in Scotland voicing their needs and concerns over lack of involvement. This guide serves as a tool for those who provide, design or commission services - including those involved in testing, treatment, care and support services, as well as those making policy that affects people living with or at risk of HIV – on how to involve people.
We have produced a report discussing the impact of policy on provision of services, and the experiences of people living with and at risk of HIV when accessing services in Scotland. It provides researchers, policy makers and stakeholders with a discussion of the range of services being provided and accessed, key trends in service provision, as well as examples of good practice and recommendations for change. With the current Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework coming to an end in March 2015, this report should inform future strategies by improving understanding of people’s needs and experiences. It was based on extensive research undertaken during 2014; including surveys of 15 local authorities, 10 health boards, 96 people living with HIV and 206 people at risk of with HIV.
We produced and disseminated a report in partnership with Hepatitis Scotland looking at the impact of welfare reform on people living with HIV and hepatitis. In this we set out a range of recommendations to be taken forward by the UK Department for Work and Pensions, the Scottish Government, the NHS and local authorities. The report raises deeply concerning issues: people living with blood borne viruses who access benefits told us that their physical and mental health are being made worse by the reforms, while services for people with HIV and hepatitis are facing greatly increased demand. This report been quoted during Westminster welfare debates, and cited within various third sector reports.
In liaison with the National AIDS Trust, we produced a quick facts leaflet about employment and HIV to support people living with HIV within the workplace. We have also developed our website to include information about HIV and the workplace for both employers and employees with links to sources of further information and support.