Film screening marks launch of Redbridge HIV programme
- Credit: Archant
“It is important to celebrate the achievements of where we have got with HIV – but we’re not done yet.”
That is the message of Yasmin Dunkley, HIV prevention and testing team leader with charity Positive East.
Last month the group launched a new integrated HIV service in Redbridge, partnering with the council’s public health team and volunteering service Redbridge CVS.
The opening of this new service, as well as the progress made in terms of both LGBT rights and HIV over the last 30 years, will be marked with a film screening and panel discussion at Redbridge Central Library, in York Road, on Friday, February 8.
The Recorder spoke to Yasmin to better understand how the community can make the most of this new service.
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“There are still a lot of people out who are unaware of their HIV status,” Yasmin told the Recorder.
“There are still people living with HIV who are not getting support or who are out there facing stigma.”
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“We still think HIV is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed.”
Around 2.7 people out of 100,000 are HIV positive in Redbridge, according to 2017 figures,
Yasmin told the Recorder that the new service has two main strands – prevention and support.
The former component includes training sessions for professionals and community workshops aimed a breaking down stigmas.
“It is open to anyone who interested in learning more about HIV and who may come into contact with HIV,” Yasmin explained.
“There is so much information out there – it is important to make sure people have the most up-to-date facts.”
“This is the key to ensuring people know how to avoid stigmatisation and pass on that information to the people they work with.”
The workshops, which take place at Redbridge CVS’ Cranbrook Road office, provide an opportunity for residents a better understand what the actually virus is and to hear stories from those living with HIV.
For those who are unfamiliar, HIV – or the human immunodeficiency virus – damages the cells in a person’s immune system, weakening their ability to fight infections and disease.
AIDs, which stands for the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, describes a number of potentially life-threatening infections that result when HIV has damaged a person’s immune system.
Though currently incurable, there are many effective treatments which enable those living with the disease to live long and health lives – which are discussed during the workshops.
Also incuded in the prevention programme is the opportuntiy to be tested for HIV free-of-charge at the Redbridge CVS offices in Redbridge Central Library.
“We offer a rapid testing service so residents can find out there results then and there,” Yasmin added.
In terms of support, the newly launched programme offers those living with HIV advice from professionals on topics ranging from there rights in relation to housing and welfare at Outpatients East, Barking Hospital, Upney Lane.
Health and wellbeing seminars, offering additional support on topics such as smoking cessation and healthy eating, are also set to start run at the Keith Axon Centre, in Grove Road, Chadwell Heath this month.
Finally, one-to-one mentoring to help those living with HIV manage the virus are now on offer thanks to the new scheme.
Friday’s launch event is will feature a screening of “30 Years of Living with HIV”, a 17-minute film tracing the journey and impact of the HIV prevention campaign that emerged in 1980s.
The film pieces together interviews with 20 people, bringing together the perspectives of all those involved in the campaign – including those who were not expected to survive.
“Being diagnosed with cancer was awful but at least there was treament and, to some extent public sympathy,” recalls Brian Oshea, who was diagnosed in 1980s aged 22.
“With HIV you were not only ill but an outcast.”
Full for details of the service see positiveeast.org.uk/our-services/redbridge/
Book your place at the film screening on eventbrite.