Sonia Lynch of the Welcome Centre talks to the Redbridge Community Newsletter about HIV awareness
In the May edition of the Redbridge CVS Community newsletter, Sonia Lynch from the Welcome Centre talks about HIV.
"Partnership working between the voluntary and statutory sectors has increased uptake of local health services."
By the end of 2010, an estimated 91,500 (85,400-99,000) people were living with HIV in the UK, of whom 24% (19%-30%) remained undiagnosed and were therefore unaware of their infection. People living with diagnosed HIV in the UK can expect a nearnormal life expectancy, particularly if diagnosed promptly.
There has been a slow but significant decline in the proportion of people diagnosed late over the past decade. Nevertheless, the proportion of late diagnoses remained high in 2010 (50%). These individuals carry a tenfold increased risk of dying within a year of diagnosis, compared to those diagnosed promptly. (Source: Health Protection Agency, 2011).
RedbridgeCVS’ Health Partnerships Project works to help NHS Outer North East London to raise awareness about local health services in Redbridge amongst the voluntary and community sector. Swati Vyas, Health Partnerships Officer at RedbridgeCVS was approached by the HIV testing services offered at Loxford Polyclinic to help them with raising awareness about their services in Redbridge.
Swati organized awareness sessions for different voluntary groups on HIV testing services and this has shown positive results in terms of increase in uptake of these services in Redbridge.
Dawn Edwards, Clinical Nurse Specialist, NHS North East London Community Services shares how it impacted their services “Since January 2011 we have been running an HIV testing clinic at Loxford polyclinic. This service runs every Wednesday from 4pm- 7pm, it is a confidential, walk-in service with results available in 60 seconds.
“We have found that working in collaboration with the community and voluntary groups through Swati has been an invaluable experience for both sectors. Working jointly with groups like The Welcome Centre (a group that works with homeless people), Home Start (a group that works with young mothers and their families) and FiveE (a local college) has increased uptake of our service and provides information for people who may not otherwise access healthcare services. We very much appreciate the continued support we have received.’
Sonia Lynch, Manager of the Welcome Centre says, ‘We actively seek to work with public statutory health services in addressing the needs of the homeless in Redbridge. At the Welcome Centre we see many clients who do not generally access mainstream statutory health services. Over the years we have looked at ways to change this and have established and built links with some statutory health services so that we can actively work together to educate and encourage homeless people to take better care of their health and well being. ‘Statutory healthcare providers have partnered with us with Swati’s help to deliver classroom-style sessions to homeless clients regarding sexual health and other health related topics. These sessions have proved successful as evidence suggest that clients are taking personal responsibility for their health and well being by independently accessing health clinics outside of our day centre, i.e at the Loxford Polyclinic.’
Sonia from Home Start shares how the talks conducted for their volunteers were helpful. ‘Dawn Edwards, nurse at Loxford polyclinic has been to speak to our volunteers on three occasions. She spoke about HIV and AIDS awareness and what happens from testing, counselling, diagnosis and treatment regimes. She also spoke about the services in Redbridge and where people can go if they need help and advice. Volunteers, some of whom did not know much about the subject said they found the talk very informative and enlightening and would be discussing some of the issues with their friends and family. As home visiting volunteers all these issues are relevant to ensuring that they have proper understanding to assist them in supporting families they visit and also personal insight for them in their own daily lives.’