World-first ‘amazing’ initiative contributes to a 44% reduction in Brighton & Hove residents diagnosed with HIV

Published: Posted on:

An award-winning world-first Trust initiative, HIV testing in the community’, has helped see a 44% reduction in Brighton residents diagnosed with HIV since its launch in 2017.

‘HIV testing in the community’, which was established by UHSussex Sexual Health consultants in partnership with The Martin Fisher Foundation, uses a smart vending machine to dispense free HIV self-testing kits.

The HIV self-tests give a result in just 15 minutes from a single drop of blood. Importantly, of those diagnosed in Brighton & Hove this year, 100% received HIV treatment within 30 days. Once on effective treatment, people living with HIV are unable to pass the infection on.  

These machines are located in multiple venues across Brighton to make them as accessible as possible to those in high risk groups across the city.

Dr Duncan Churchill, HIV consultant at UHSussex, said: “We estimate that there are currently around 120 people with undiagnosed HIV living in Brighton & Hove. People with undiagnosed HIV eventually come to medical services with complications from untreated HIV. Untreated HIV also means that the person may unintentionally transmit HIV to sexual partners. These vending machines are invaluable as they offer another route to help identify people with undiagnosed infection.”

In 2021, these vending machines were upgraded to also include HIV and STI combined self-sampling kits.

Kate Slemeck, Trust Managing Director for Brighton & Hove, met Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, and Trust sexual health consultants, in September 2021, to learn more about these initiatives and their impact.

Kate Slemek said: “Brighton has a long history of national and international research, innovation, and a joined up approach listening to and working with this patient group and community. It’s been incredible to meet some of those involved in the innovative work they have pioneered and hear about the real difference these patient-centred initiatives are making to people in Brighton.” 

Dr Gillian Dean, HIV consultant at UHSussex, said: “We were delighted to welcome Winnie Byanyima to the city, who is leading on world-wide efforts to reach zero new HIV transmissions by 2030. We had the opportunity to demonstrate our combined political, community and clinical response to which she said ‘the people of Brighton & Hove are achieving amazing things’.”