The Doctors of the World project aimed to increase HIV testing and treatment for people from migrant and other underserved populations. Everyone in the project was also tested for sexually transmitted infections. It helps tackle stigma and provides testing environments where people feel safe.
Background to project
Refugees, people seeking asylum and people who have migrated to the UK, often feel excluded from healthcare and have trouble accessing HIV tests. An individual’s immigration status can impact whether they access HIV tests and treatment. Language barriers, access, knowledge, stigma and fear of immigration enforcement are among the main reasons migrant communities do not access sexual health services.
“We need to stop just talking about HIV testing and HIV treatment. HIV has moved on now from 20 years ago, it’s bottom of a long list of issues. It’s now about people ageing with HIV, it’s about stigma and discrimination and it’s about social issues and inequalities. That’s what we need to talk about.” – Michelle, Doctors of the World
What the project achieved
Doctors of the World helped to remove barriers to testing and treatment by being available at their permanent East London clinic. People feel safe there and can access advice and support in their first language, regardless of their immigration status. Working in partnership with the HIV support community and migrant support community reached out to populations and offered drop-in sessions.
Everyone who tested for HIV also tested for other sexually transmitted infections. From 2021-22, Doctors of the World provided HIV testing to over 150 people from migrant populations by visiting Home Office initial accommodation sites, conducting outreach into communities and everyone who attended Doctors of the World’s East London clinic. Around 77% of people tested had never been tested in the UK.
The work so far has included supporting people with more complex situations which affect their sexual health, including transwomen accessing services, people experiencing reproductive issues or poor mental health. Doctors of the World aims to support people who have trouble accessing HIV testing by providing a safe environment that offers translated and person-centred healthcare services.
Find out more about Doctor’s of the World work on their website: www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk