Innovative projects to receive vital funding to trial new ways to improve sexual health and HIV outcomes

Graham Robson February 7, 2023

Brighton & Hove Switchboard, Terrence Higgins Trust, Love Tank and Birmingham LGBT are among 14 organisations to benefit from a new fund to boost engagement and outreach activity to reduce sexual health inequalities across England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced.

Projects will offer services including vaccinations in community settings such as pubs and music festivals, raising awareness of sexual health issues at sex-on-premises venues, and communications to reduce anxiety around the mpox (monkeypox) vaccine, all with the aim of boosting engagement and outreach activity to reduce sexual health inequalities in underserved LGBTQ+communities.

Each community based, voluntary sector organisation has been awarded up to £30,000 as part of the £200,000 mpox and sexual health (STI and HIV) outreach and engagement activity fund to enable this.

Brighton & Hove Switchboard¬†received ¬£7,293 funding. The charity’s proposal is to use social networks to release regular and accurate information for specific groups about testing and vaccination across Sussex. Plus, promote the availability of one-to-one casework with individuals who are concerned about their sexual health or about accessing local services. There will be a partnership at a night shelter on a weekly basis to talk to guests about their services.

Terrence Higgins Trust received £22,000 funding for a national project. The proposal is to create digital resources and content, including promoting and amplifying existing video content in different languages, to raise awareness and knowledge of mpox in at-risk communities. This will be alongside working hard to increase uptake of second doses of the vaccine by outlining benefits and signposting to local sexual health services.

Love Tank received ¬£25,000 funding for a London project.¬†The proposal is to undertake 10 to 12 under-the-radar (UTR) events between February and March 2023 reaching 300 to 400 individuals in non-clinical settings with mpox vaccination. Where possible, it will offer access to other relevant vaccination (for example, hepatitis A and Covid-19) and access to STI testing and HIV testing (as appropriate) via SHL ‚Äėsmart‚Äô kits.

Birmingham LGBT received £5,040 funding for a Birmingham / national project. The proposal is to target underrepresented GBMSM from South Asian, African, African Caribbean and Eastern European populations within the LGBTQ+ community. Four interviews with gay, bi and all men who have sex with men (GBMSM) from those communities, who have accessed the HIV and STI testing service and mpox vaccination programme, will be filmed and will serve as role models for others within these underserved populations.

To see the full list of successful organisations, CLICK HERE

Kate Folkard, Head of Programme Delivery for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses at UKHSA, said: “The innovation and reach of voluntary and community sector organisations is a vital piece in the puzzle of how we effectively tackle sexual health inequality across England. These projects span the length and breadth of the country and will provide a valuable set of resources in England¬†to build on the achievements already seen in the response to the mpox outbreak.

“These organisations are the experts in their own communities and this fund will help further engage underserved populations and work with them to protect their health. I‚Äôm eager to see their innovative programmes¬†come to fruition and we will work closely with them to help share the learning from their work across the country.”

According to UKHSA, this funding will help ensure more people are aware of the risks surrounding mpox and their sexual health, enabling greater access to sexual health services and empowering people to manage their own health and protect others.

It will also help address issues such as inequalities in access to mpox vaccination, uptake of vaccination for other sexually transmitted infections and Blood Borne Viruses, in particular hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) and address the wider determinants of health behaviours that increase the risk of HIV and STI acquisition, such as mental health and drugs and alcohol.

Projects and spend will need to be complete by 31 March 2023.

To see the full list of successful organisations, CLICK HERE