World AIDS Day at the Trust

01 December 2022

Deputy CEO and COO Rob Hodgkiss gives an important message, and our clinicians discuss our leading work to improve HIV care and prevention.

A message from Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer Rob Hodgkiss

“Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day. It is time to celebrate progress, support those living with HIV, and commemorate the lives lost to the virus. 

This year, the day falls within PrEP Awareness Week, a campaign spreading the message that PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the best weapon we have against HIV. 

Our sexual health services provide exceptional treatment and support, getting Londoners on PrEP, and delivering outreach and timely care to people living with HIV.

Our Trust has a long history of achievements in the research, innovation, and care of people living with HIV, which continues to this day, providing the country's largest service. We take pride in being compassionate, fighting stigma, and listening to patients to continuously improve.

Opt-out HIV testing in our A&Es has helped identify people who were unaware they were living with the virus, highlighting the importance of knowing your status. This is now being rolled out across London, meaning that any patient in A&E who needs a blood test will be routinely screened for HIV, unless they decide to opt out. 

Today, around 38 million people live with HIV globally, including over 105,000 in the UK. However, in a recent survey by the National AIDS Trust, only 16% of Brits knew that if someone living with HIV is on effective treatment, they can’t pass it on, and can expect to live a long and healthy life.

I would like to share the message that if someone living with HIV is established on treatment and has an undetectable viral load, they cannot pass the virus on to others. This is known as 'U=U', which stands for undetectable = untransmittable.

Our understanding of HIV has made extraordinary progress since the first cases were reported in 1981. Despite this, the care and support available varies across the world, and in this country, lack of knowledge, stigma, and discrimination means that access to safe effective treatment is still unequal for many.

World AIDS Day is still important. HIV has not gone away, and there is still a need for education, fundraising, innovation, raising awareness, improving access, and tackling prejudice. Whilst we must continue the vital work to prevent new HIV transmissions, we must not lose sight of the issues faced by all those living with HIV/AIDS.”

World AIDS Day at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Our sexual health services marked World AIDS Day with events and outreach work.  

Debbie and Callum World AIDS Day

The 56 Dean Street sexual health clinic team held their Annual Testing Event at G-A-Y Bar in Soho, offering a 'walk in and start PrEP' service, as well as walk-in HIV testing and Mpox vaccination. 

 Sam Gregson 5 myths about PrEP

Dr Sam Gregson, doctor at 56 Dean Street, addressed the most common myths about PrEP in a video with Gay Times magazine.

PrEP stalls

At West Middlesex University Hospital, Sexual Health Hounslow held stalls this week promoting PrEP and encouraging open conversation.

Kobler patient artwork 1 Kobler patient artwork 2

The Kobler Clinic at the St Stephens Centre in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is the largest HIV clinic in the UK. Trust charity CW+ displayed a small exhibition of artwork made by patients who have used the service. 

 Marta Boffito interview

Trust HIV Service Director Marta Boffito spoke to Salma El-Wardany on BBC Radio London about the success of HIV opt-out testing in our A&Es, which helps people know their status and get treatment if they test positive for HIV.

Marta Boffito BBC

Marta Boffito, HIV Service Director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Gary Whitlock, Service Director at 56 Dean Street sexual health clinic, highlight the success of HIV opt-out testing in A&E and progress in HIV care and prevention on BBC London's evening news on World AIDS Day.