5 YEARS OF U=U

 

5 YEARS OF UNDETECTABLE = UNTRANSMISSABLE 

 

July 21st, 2021

 

We're celebrating the milestone of the Undetactable Equals Untransmissable campaign turning 5 years old. 

 

5 years ago, a global coalition of activists, advocates, and scientists came together to pronounce that Undetectable = Untransmittable or U=U.

 

We're proud to be a Community Partner of the U=U Consensus Statement issued by the Prevention Access Campaign and strongly endorses the research supported message* that people living with HIV and with a sustained undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV to their sexual partners.

 

We firmly believe that HIV stigma is fuelled by the fear of HIV transmission – the U=U campaign is potentially one of the most powerful ways in which HIV stigma will be defeated.  The fact that we now know that effective HIV treatment has a clear and proven preventative impact means that the need for everyone, no matter where in the world they live, to have easy and fair access to HIV medication is now more urgent than ever before.

 

*The PARTNER study was an international observational study that estimates the risk of HIV transmission within HIV serodifferent couples (one person is living with HIV, the other is not) who do not use condoms, when the HIV positive person is on antiretroviral therapy and has an undetectable viral load. Read more information about the Partner Studies in this campaign from ViiV Healthcare, supported by George House Trust.
 

Wednesday, 21 July, 2021

UK AIDS Memorial Quilt

Background

The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt is a precious artefact. Each of the panels commemorates lives lost to the AIDS pandemic during the 1980s and 90s. It is a public naming of loved ones lost, and a memorial for the many who died and went unnamed too. 

 

It is part of an international movement that sought to raise awareness of the impact of the AIDS pandemic and ensure that these lives would never be forgotten.

 

The quilts remind us how far the UK has come in the fight against HIV but how much there is still to be done to tackle stigma, reduce new infections, particularly in vulnerable communities, and support those living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.  

 

Reflections Of The Launch Event from Our Chair, Jo Hancock

The UK AIDS Quilt Partnership was in the early stages of development when I began my first term as Chair for George House Trust.  I remember the panels being packed up ready to be transported to their new home, and the determination that they would not stay locked away. 

 

It is therefore fitting that one of the last “official” events I attended as Chair is the largest display of the UK AIDS quilts in London since the early 1990s. The launch event on 3rd July 2021 was both a celebration of how far we have come, and a protest at the stigma, discrimination and needless loss of life. 

 

It was loud and passionate - the energy in the room was palpable.  As we moved to view the panels silence descended. 

 

The quilt is a poignant piece of social history. But more than that, it is a very powerful reminder of the personal loss felt by so many.  Each panel celebrates and commemorates the life of a loved one – named or unnamed. To view it is both challenging and uplifting, the experience public and yet so very private. It is a reminder that HIV is still with us and that lives are still lost.

 

It is a call to action to challenge HIV stigma, support those living with HIV today, and create a future free from HIV.

 

The AIDS Quilt Exhibition was organised by The Food Chain, George House Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, Positive East, Positively UK, Sahir House, Waverley Care and Fast Track Cities London.

Thursday, 8 July, 2021

36 Years Of HIV Support

36 YEARS OF HIV SUPPORT AND SMASHING STIGMA

 

It's been 36 years since six gay HIV activists founded Manchester AIDs-line, which later became George House Trust. Made up of members of the LGBT+ community and allies, the AIDSline offered support and advice to people affected by AIDS.

 

It was one of only a handful of services across the entire country that provided much-needed support, advice, and solidarity at a time where it wasn’t available anywhere else. More recently, the transcriptions from AIDSline phone calls were used in our patron Russell T. Davies' hit TV show 'It's A Sin". 

 

Since that day, 7th July 1985, HIV has changed. Living with HIV has changed.

 

Effective medication now means people living with HIV cannot pass HIV on to sexual partners - known as Undetectable = Untransmissable or U=U. There have been revolutionary medical developments like PeP and PrEP which prevent HIV. 

 

Join us in commemorating these milestones and acheivements, whilst helping us to provide services, to newly diagnosed people as well as people who've been living with HIV for some time - and support them to live with HIV healthily and confidently:

 

Support us here or text MANCAIDS to 70085 to donate £3.

 

Whilst much about HIV has changed for the better, one major challenge still exists and that’s the impact of stigma and discrimination which hasn’t kept pace with the medical advances.

 

We firmly believe that HIV stigma is fuelled by the fear of HIV transmission and the U=U campaign is potentially one of the most powerful ways in which HIV stigma will be defeated.

 

Support us here or text MANCAIDS to 70085 to donate £3.

 

If you are living with HIV, you can find out more about our services and support here.

 

On this anniversary, we would like to thank everyone who made a difference and who continues to make a difference to the lives of people living with HIV. All of our progress is down to the heroic efforts of many people and we’re grateful to every one of you, past, present and future.

 

Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £3 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text MANCAIDSNOINFO to 70085.

 

Tuesday, 1 June, 2021

National AIDS Trust Publishes On Health and Social Care For Older People in Greater Manchester.

 

National AIDS Trust has published a new report about improving health and social care for people ageing with HIV in Greater Manchester.

 

For the report, National Aids Trust conducted workshops with service users at George House Trust where they explored the reality of navigating health and social care services as people get older with HIV.

 

The report makes it clear that health and social care services must improve their integration, coordination and collaboration to better meet the needs of people living with HIV as they age. The report goes on to make a series of recommendations about how this might be done.

 

The report also noted that "HIV support services like George House Trust have invaluable expertise of supporting & empowering people ageing with HIV to manage their health & care coordination."

 

You can read the full report here.

Thursday, 1 July, 2021

"IT’S A SIN" MERCHANDISE

‘It’s a Sin’ Merchandise

 

We are thrilled by the success of the TV show ‘It’s A Sin’, written by our Patron Russell T Davies.  We are equally as thrilled by our supporters who are promoting HIV awareness and supporting us with ‘It's A Sin’ inspired merchandise.

 

Head to our shop to check out all the clothing, artwork and music being sold with proceeds donated to us.  La!

Friday, 5 March, 2021

Vengai's Phone Buddy Blog

 

LONELINESS AWARENESS WEEK 2021

BY VENGAI, TELEPHONE BUDDY

 

One of the feelings most of us experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic is loneliness.

 

In our efforts to keep ourselves safe and save lives by avoiding gatherings and maintaining social distance from friends and family, I got caught up in another mental health issue brought on by loneliness.

 

The situation was made worse by me having to shield to avoid being seriously ill if I catch Covid-19 infection. I spent each day and night in my room not even interacting with house mates because of fear of being exposed to the deadly virus.

 

Shielding during lockdown was like self-imprisonment - not going outside. If I went out for a walk it was for a very short period of time because of fear of exposure to the virus. I lost confidence of myself especially walking outside alone. Shielding during lockdown gave me mental torture and the effects will last for quite some time.

 

However, Melissa, my phone buddy helped me a lot to cope with the challenges of shielding during lockdown, which were serious but with the help of Melissa I felt I was not alone during these most difficult times.

 

During the weekly telephone calls, I engaged in very interesting conversations which alleviated my worries. The conversations helped me to change my mindset for the better. I was so encouraged and remained positive.

 

Melissa referred any issues I experienced to George House Trust's services team for immediate help annd prompt support. This is the reason why I managed well during the lockdown period.

 

Melissa impacted me in a positive way, I did not feel left alone to deal with my problems. I was always with somebody to lift my morale and give me hope. Well done phone buddy!!

Monday, 14 June, 2021

Melissa's Phone Buddy Blog

 

LONELINESS AWARENESS WEEK 2021

BY MELISSA, VOLUNTEER TELEPHONE BUDDY

 

I don’t think people who haven’t experienced shielding can fully understand the all-encompassing nature of the isolation.

 

Overnight, your life is halted; cut-short. Your existence takes place in a series of rooms, where once you had the world. A world of people to communicate with, a friendly chat with the stranger who takes your coffee order or a trip to the gym, now you have this stripped-down place wherein the coffee is substandard, and the gym iscluttering your office space. At one point, a friend called to ask, “Is this happening?” We had read about pandemics throughout history, with a feeling of sorrow and an inevitable emotional detachment.

 

There are moments I recall vividly - moments of connection.

 

Over a year of shielding, I was fortunate to volunteer with George House Trust.

 

It gave me a link to the outside world when I often felt I could not grasp it; loneliness and isolation are insidious, and shielding offered little respite. There is a window in my living room, and I would often watch people pass and feel disconnected. Outside became like another sphere that I could not inhabit because I feared the virus. For people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, that initial period was overwhelming and inscribable.

 

We were told that the virus had the potential to do irrevocable damage, to wreck our immune systems, to damage us and our organs beyond repair. We were told not to interact with others. We lived with that fear for so long that it felt like living in a mental and physical fortress.      

 

I hoped to alleviate that feeling for Vengai when I became a Telephone Buddy and we developed a connection when everything felt unbound.

 

As time wore on, having conversations allowed us to learn a great deal; I had never faced such uncertainty, and the connections which were formed were all the more valuable; one question I always asked, “is there anything else I can help you with?” I asked because I didn’t know what else to say. It was effective as it gave us a feeling of continuity and reassurance.

 

It helped me to regain a sense of normality in the most abnormal of circumstances. 

 

 

Monday, 14 June, 2021

 

By COLIN ARMSTEAD, SERVICES DIRECTOR AT GEORGE HOUSE TRUST

 

Feelings of loneliness and social isolation were reported by a significant number of people in our recent service user survey – perhaps not surprising given the lockdowns and restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19.

 

However, we know from the research into this particular area that experiencing loneliness and social isolation are significant life factors for some people living with HIV - even without the imposed restrictions of a global pandemic.

 

There’s a clear link between HIV stigma, poor mental health and often, as a result, social isolation. Although experiencing loneliness isn’t a mental health condition in itself, it can have a serious impact on someone’s mental health.

 

We all need to feel connected and part of a greater whole. For some, HIV stigma can impact in a way which magnifies feelings of separation, otherness and ultimately loneliness.

 

Whilst HIV stigma can play a significant part in compounding feelings of loneliness, it may not be the most significant factor for people living with HIV who feel lonely or socially isolated. Loneliness is an experience and not something which defines a person’s identity. We need to be able to talk about loneliness openly and honestly. 

 

At George House Trust, we’re very aware of the loneliness and social isolation experienced by some people who use our services and we have a number of services to help people feel more connected.

 

Amongst other services, our Age+ Project for people living with HIV who are aged over 55, our Calabash project for African men living with HIV and our wide programme of group events are some of the ways we support people to build-up their social networks and feel more socially connected.

 

Our Telephone Buddies make regular calls to people for a chat and catch up. Our Peer Mentors ensure that people living with HIV don’t feel alone. Our Services Advisers provide essential one to one support.

 

We’re here for you if you’re living with HIV and experiencing loneliness or isolation. Just call 0161 274 4499, email talk@ght.org.uk or read more on our website.  

 

Monday, 14 June, 2021

 

LONELINESS AWARENESS WEEK 2021

 

George House Trust is committed to supporting people to live confidently and healthily with HIV. We believe that social connection, a sense of community and the confidence to make decisions free from the fear of stigma are central to this.

 

This Loneliness Awareness Week, we’re encouraging people to see loneliness as an experience. Just like HIV, it doesn't define you - it exists, and we need to remove the stigma and shame surrounding it. So, let's talk about loneliness and HIV…..

 

HIV, the stigma associated with it, mental health issues, loneliness and isolation are linked in a number of ways:

 

  • The 2017 Positive Voices Survey found that mental health problems are reported by half of people living with HIV, twice the rate of the general public.

 

  • One in 5 people living with HIV said that they needed help dealing with isolation and loneliness, of which 75% reported that this need was unmet.

 

  • Internalised stigma, which many people living with HIV report experiencing, can manifest as a mental health issue and occurs when someone, as a result of repetitive external messages about HIV, develops negative core beliefs about themselves. This can lead to depression, low mood, isolation, and feelings of shame.

 

  • Another factor is that lots of people who are living with HIV say they find it difficult to talk about their status with friends, family and colleagues which makes them feel more isolated. Many people we speak to at George House Trust have not told anyone about their HIV status due to actual and perceived (internalised) HIV stigma.

 

  • Read our Services Director Colin's blog on loneliness and HIV.

 

  • Check out Melissa's and Vengai's experiences of phone buddying during Covid and how it helped them feel more socially connected. 

 

Recently, many of George House Trust’s service users reported that they are experiencing loneliness even more due to lockdown and, after over a year of social distancing and restrictions, people accessing our services want to feel more socially connected.

 

So, if you’re living with HIV and want to meet new people and feel more socially connected, George House Trust has a range of services and activities for you:

 

Age+

If you're living with HIV and are aged 55 years or older, we will be shortly launching a project just for you! Age+ will build you confidence, skills, reduce loneliness and tackle the stigma and discrimination that still exists for people living with HIV. Contact Anna Hughes on anna@ght.org.uk or 0161 546 3540 for more information on how to get involved.

 

Calabash

If you’re an African man living with HIV, join our Calabash project! Monthly sessions will be held where African men will benefit from different kinds of support, including HIV-related, interpersonal (physical and psychosocial), economic, learning, and answers to deep-seated questions and burning issues. You can register for our Calabash launch event on June 29th 2021 here or email Jeff Ukiri, project co-ordinator, for more information. 

 

A previous Calabash participant told us, "It was quite an experience. Everyone was free to talk about their life with HIV. I really enjoyed it. I was surprised at how much I trusted the other men and felt able to talk about personal issues.”

 

Events

Check out our events page for our range of group activities and courses.  

 

Life Coaching

Want to change things but don’t know how to do it? Do you have a dream or aspiration and want some help to fulfil it? We’re working in partnership with Result CIC to offer free life coaching.

 

You’ll be paired with an accredited life coach and together you’ll look at your aims and develop a plan to achieve them. We can offer up to 12 sessions.

 

Email Josh or call 07581 011 064 for more information.

 

Peer Mentoring

Our Peer Mentoring project matches you with a mentor to provide support tailored to you and your needs:

 

A mentee told us, “In all honesty, this has helped me to stay alive. My mentor has been there for me when it felt I had nobody else to speak to - it's helped me to know that I have someone I can trust. Having someone to talk to regularly and knowing someone will respond to me - it's felt like a lifeline at times. I can't thank George House Trust enough.”

 

Phone Buddies

Our telephone befriending service is between a volunteer and a George House Trust service user who is self-isolating because of Coronavirus. 

 

“My phone buddy helped me a lot to cope up with challenges of shielding during lockdown. I was struggling…but with the help of a phone buddy I felt I was not alone during these most difficult times."

 

Or, you can call us 0161 274 4499 or email talk@ght.org.uk for a friendly chat about how we can help build up your social connections.

Monday, 14 June, 2021

Recieving the Inevestors In Volunteering Award

 

We're SO proud to have achieved the Investing in Volunteers award for good practice in volunteer management!

 

Garry said "I’m ecstatic! After such a tough year for all, it’s a real testament to the work of us volunteers & staff supporting us!"

 

Volunteers are at the heart of George House Trust and we feel this award demonstrates our commitment to ensuring we provide our volunteer team with the best possible experience.  We can’t wait to celebrate!

Wednesday, 2 June, 2021

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Living with HIV? Want to talk to us?
Call 0161 274 4499 or email: talk@ght.org.uk