Up to £200,000 will be spent on engagement and outreach activity to reduce sexual health inequalities across England as part of a new fund, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced.
According to UKHSA, sexual health inequalities remain a major public health issue in England. In a release, UKHSA said: “This year has been particularly challenging with the outbreak of monkeypox, which predominantly affected gay and bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM).”
While monkeypox case numbers have now dropped, with no new cases identified between 6-12 December, the outbreak highlighted the challenges of effectively reaching and engaging with underserved groups, including those at highest risk, so they see important public health messaging and access services and vaccinations where needed.
To tackle this, the UKHSA Mpox and Sexual Health (STI and HIV) Outreach and Engagement Activity Fund will provide up to £30,000 funding to community-based, voluntary sector organisations to develop and deliver work to address inequalities in affected LGBTQ+ groups.
Organisations can apply via gov.uk, where prospective applicants can find more information about the fund and how it works, an application form and contact details for applicants with further questions.
Each applicant will be asked to demonstrate clearly how they will address inequalities but also seek to expand activity around underserved LGBTQ+ communities to improve poor sexual health and HIV outcomes.
Successful projects could:
- Address inequalities in access to monkeypox vaccination
- Promote accurate impartial information on accessing the monkeypox vaccination
- Support increased knowledge, awareness and understanding of monkeypox and STI prevention strategies
- Address stigma associated with monkeypox and STIs
- Offer culturally competent innovative ways of addressing poor sexual health
- Improve uptake of vaccination for other sexually transmitted infections and BBVs, in particular HAV, HBV and HPV
- Address the wider determinants of health behaviours that increase the risk of HIV and STI acquisition, such as mental health and drug and alcohol
- Support the integration of HIV and STI prevention into other areas of health promotion and service delivery
- Seek to address issues around digital exclusion including those outside metropolitan areas and consider how technology can reach those distanced from physical services
Dr William Welfare, Interim Director of Regions for UKHSA, said: “Tackling health inequalities is central to our mission at UKHSA so I welcome this fund, which will be an important enabler for reducing sexual health inequalities across England.
“Community based voluntary sector organisations are already doing so much excellent work in this area, to engage underserved populations and work with them to protect their health. They have a huge amount of skills, expertise and knowledge of the communities they help on a daily basis so I know they will be best placed to deliver innovative and meaningful outreach and engagement activity, with funding from UKHSA.
“I’m eager to see the different innovative programmes applicants propose and we will work closely with them to help implement effective public health interventions across the country.”
UKHSA is particularly interested in projects that address at least two out of the three areas: access and uptake of monkeypox vaccination, sexual health and HIV prevention.
Projects and spend will need to be complete by 31 March 2023.
To apply, CLICK HERE