LSTM marks World AIDS Day 2023

News article 30 Nov 2023
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World AIDS Day is a global, annual event to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS, show solidarity against stigma and remember lives lost.

HIV remains a major global public health issue. An estimated 38 million people live with the virus, while more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses over the past 40 years.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, through our research, partnerships, and the global health leaders in our alumni community, continue to be at the forefront of efforts to test, treat and support those living with HIV.

HIV self-testing

One example of LSTM’s vital HIV research is its work on HIV self-testing evaluation programmes, led by Dr Victoria Watson alongside international partners, the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria, Infectious Diseases Institute in Uganda and CeSHHAR in Zimbabwe.

Dr Watson, Senior Research Associate at LSTM, is a member of the World Health Organization HIV Self-Testing Technical Working Group and has contributed to the WHO guidelines on HIV self-testing. She’s also a member of the Fast Track Cities Steering Committee building a strategy for HIV and other transmissible diseases in Liverpool, regionally and globally.

Her research team are evaluating programmes to encourage the uptake of HIV self-testing. The first part of the evaluation is focused in Nigeria and Uganda, working closely with local communities and interviewing those with local expertise and experience.

Researchers from the Infectious Diseases Institute, Uganda (l-r) Alice Kenkwanzi, Mugenyi Francis Mugisha, Zaituni Namusisi, Twinomuyambi Jolly Kabazirwe, Kiiza Cornelius, John Sunday, Zimula Robert, Nagasha Rebecca,  Nabukenya Zaina Shakirah, Elly Nuwamanya and Nantume Patience

Self-testing aims to address gaps in HIV testing and treatment. Investment from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation aims to accelerate the de-medicalisation of HIV self-testing, increase the usage of self-tests and link HIV positive people to treatment and many more people to HIV prevention services. Regular HIV testing is crucial in helping people with HIV access treatment when they are still healthy.

Global leadership

Many of LSTM’s alumni community have been involved in HIV/AIDS research, advocacy and leadership roles.

Last week, we welcomed alumnus Dr Kevin De Cock back to LSTM to deliver a guest lecture about his career in infectious diseases, global health, and HIV/AIDS research.

Dr De Cock led the CDC’s HIV/AIDS prevention, surveillance and epidemiology department, overseeing research and collaborations in various countries, before becoming Director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization, where his work included publishing major international guidelines on HIV treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling.

His lecture ‘Dispatches from the AIDS pandemic’ is available to watch again:

Community

This year, LSTM are supporting Sahir House, a Merseyside charity that promotes better sexual health and wellness for all and supports the needs of LGBTQ+ people across the region.

Every year since 1988, Sahir House has held a vigil in Liverpool to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. The charity also uses the day to encourage people across Merseyside to stand in solidarity with people living with HIV and commit to playing their part in helping to end new transmissions of HIV whilst fighting HIV stigma and discrimination.

LSTM’s buildings will also be lit in red to commemorate World AIDS Day.