Victoria Watson

Uptake of HIV testing within minority ethnic communities in Liverpool- reaching the unreached with a tailored HIV self-testing pilot study.

Since the beginning of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected and about 35 million people have died of HIV. Currently, there are approximately 37 million people living with HIV globally. It is estimated that there are 103,800 people living with HIV in the UK.

HIV testing and treatment is free and available to everyone in the UK, however, despite efforts in outreach, self-sampling and community testing, uptake among minority ethnic communities remains low. In the North West of England, black Africans are more likely to be diagnosed late than the white population (56% and 44% respectively).

LSTM are key partners in the Unitaid funded STAR Initiative, which has provided over 4,500,000 HIV self-tests across Southern Africa increasing testing coverage among vulnerable, underserved, and key populations. We are utilising this knowledge and experience gained in the global South about HIV self-testing and bringing it here to our Liverpool community to address this health inequality.

This project aims to explore the key barriers to early HIV testing within black African communities in Liverpool to inform the design of an HIV self-testing pilot tailored to the needs of our local communities.

Increasing uptake of testing will reduce the numbers of undiagnosed infections, improve outcomes and reduce onward transmission of HIV.

This work will be conducted in close collaboration with Public Health Liverpool, the HIV Fast-Track Cities Initiative and the International Public Health Department at LSTM.