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£800K boost for HIV support in London

Fast-Track Cities London has invested £800,000 into a new collaborative with leading HIV charities and the NHS, to put peer support workers in every London HIV clinic and provide wrap around advice and support to vulnerable and underserved communities.

Eight new initiatives are being announced today as Fast Track Cities London celebrates its six-year anniversary. The five leading charities involved are:

Partner charities include NAZ, 4M Network, Plus health, Sophia Forum, The Food Chain and Africa Advocacy Foundation.

Professor Jane Anderson and Professor Kevin Fenton, Co-Chairs of Fast-Track Cities London shared their thoughts:

“The Getting to Zero collaborative builds on previous work Fast-Track Cities London did that shows how putting peer support workers into HIV clinics keeps people in care, on treatment and improves their quality of life. This approach delivered a 12 fold increase in referrals to peer support, and in one clinic 85% of complex patients achieved an untransmissible HIV status due to the support they received from their peer support worker.”

“This new collaborative not only acknowledges the crucial role that peer support plays in the holistic care of individuals living with HIV but also recognises the unique understanding and empathy that peers bring to the journey. This funding empowers us to enhance our people-centred approach, growing a community where those affected by HIV can find strength, resilience, and the support needed to achieve better health outcomes.”

Peer support programmes involve trained individuals with lived experience providing assistance, guidance, and emotional support to others facing similar challenges. Despite the reported benefits of peer support, the recent Positive Voices Survey showed a decline in people accessing peer support from 16% in 2017 to just 10% in 2022.

The peer support workers will form part of a network across London and will undergo social prescriber training in the first year of the project. Advice and support offered to people living with HIV will include counselling, welfare and housing advice, nutritional advice, and specific support packages for women, gay and bisexual men and for African communities who experience high levels of stigma.

Garry Brough, Fast-Track Cities London, former peer support trainer at Positively UK says:

“Peer support plays a crucial role in adjusting to diagnosis and facing life challenges. Though HIV can be easily managed medically, ongoing experiences of stigma and poor knowledge of HIV means that people often feel isolated and fearful of reaching out. Meeting someone who lives well with HIV is a great opportunity to get a different perspective and to link to the voluntary sector services which provides opportunities to be part of a community.
Offering that directly within the clinic means that people don’t have to seek out support, but have it provided as a standard offer, and are much more likely to engage.”

Long-term benefits of the investment also include improved mental health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and a more comprehensive approach to HIV care with the voluntary sector integrated into hospital clinics.

The eight initiatives (and providers) that will form the collaborative are:

  • Psychological support including counselling, hypnotherapy and coaching (Living Well)
  • Welfare benefits advice (Positively UK)
  • Housing and benefits advice (Positive East and Food Chain)
  • Re-engagement in care, chemsex support, nutritional advice, support for women and African communities (Terrence Higgins Trust, 4M Network, Food Chain and Africa Advocacy Foundation)
  • Course for people who are newly diagnosed or having difficulty adjusting to their diagnosis (Terrence Higgins Trust, Metro, Positively UK and Positive East)
  • In-clinic peer support in South London (METRO Charity)
  • In-clinic peer support in East London (Positive East)
  • In clinic peer support in north and west London (Positively UK, Sophia Forum, NAZ and Plus Health)


Read more about the new collaborative at: https://fasttrackcities.london/our-work/getting-to-zero/

Read the report of the previous improvement collaborative and case studies here: https://fasttrackcities.london/hiv-improvement-community-impact-report-highlights-progress-in-getting-to-zero/

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