AVAC’s European pilot: PxROAR

Jackie Ayugi De Masi
Published: 15 November 2012
The European PxROAR members.

My work at NAM often involves attending various community workshops, meetings and peer support groups, helping to reinforce the important messages of the benefits of early HIV testing, safer sex and treatment adherence. I do this through sharing information and knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS and by providing accurate, reliable and clear resources for African communities living in London.

I am always ready to grab every opportunity for learning and personal development that comes my way and I am delighted to be one of the European PxROAR (Prevention Research Outreach Advocacy and Representation) members. You can read about the other members on the AVAC website.

AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention is based in the US, where a similar programme has been a great success. This exciting European pilot programme runs from April 2012 to April 2013 and is training the programme members on the ‘new HIV prevention technologies’ (NPTs). This includes the concept of using antiretroviral-based treatment as prevention (TasP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help eradicate the HIV epidemic. We are learning about HIV prevention research, education and advocacy, through mentoring, peer support, webinars, research and networking opportunities.

I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to the other European PxROAR members about these issues and their activities. Among other things we’ve had lively discussions about PrEP. Amidst the concerns, fears and recommendations raised in all our conversations, it is very clear that each new HIV prevention option offers additional hope that we will achieve the end of the epidemic in our lifetime.

Preventing HIV in the UK’s African communities

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) estimates the number of people living with HIV infection in the UK in 2010 was around 91,500, of whom 24% were undiagnosed. Of these, an estimated 40,100 were gay men, or other men who have sex with men. The next biggest group were African communities – 19,300 heterosexual African-born women and 9900 African-born men. The highest proportion of late HIV diagnoses was in the black African community at 63%.

Within African communities, African-born women can have real problems when it comes to safer sex with their African male partners. If an African woman asks her husband or partner to use a condom she could be deemed as unfaithful or undermining the husband and this can lead to domestic violence or a break-up of the relationship. Often this can lead to destitution of the woman, as a big majority depend on their male partners for financial support. There need to be extensive new strategies to specifically target these women to take control and charge of their sexual lives.

I’m thrilled to be one of the European members of PxROAR and I’m keen to directly engage the African communities in London who are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. I’m using the opportunity to learn and gather information on these subjects – and then sharing this knowledge with the people and organisations I meet during my outreach work.

I believe it is time for Africans in the UK to take control of their own lives and health and to be able to make informed choices for their own future.

Upcoming training on NPTs

If you are an African professional working directly with African people living with HIV in London and you would like to attend an upcoming training session on new HIV prevention technologies in December 2012 (specific dates to be confirmed), please do get in touch. The full programme details will be sent out in due course.

For more information

This is a very exciting programme and I would like to share with you my findings, suggestions and recommendations on how best we can advocate for combined HIV prevention interventions to end the AIDS epidemic in our lifetime.

If you are an individual or organisation working within the African community and offer services to African people with HIV, please get in touch with me. If you regularly subscribe to NAM’s print and online resources, I would be very pleased to hear your views and comments on these resources. I look forward to meeting you all very soon!

Please contact me for more details by email info@nam.org.uk or call me on 020 7837 6988.

For regular updates on news relevant to people working in HIV prevention in England, you can sign up for the free monthly email bulletin HIV prevention news: England from NAM here.

Jackie leads NAM’s African Communities Engagement Project, which is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and the Henry Smith Charity.