Project title: Exploring perspectives on provision and accessibility of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in North England and the West Midlands.
Principal Investigator Professor Marie Claire Van Hout
Team: Professor Vivian Hope; Mr Jim McVeigh: Mrs Jennifer Germain
Site: Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool
The United Kingdom (UK) has a concentrated HIV epidemic, with an estimated 101,200 people living with HIV in 2015. A decrease in diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM), the group most affected by HIV transmission, has recently been observed, and is probably due to increased frequency of testing (3 monthly) among those at greatest risk and rapid treatment for those testing positive.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an evidence based biomedical HIV prevention strategy which involves HIV negative individuals taking antiretroviral drugs to reduce probability of infection if exposed. The UK PROUD study found PrEP reduced HIV infection risk by 86% among MSM. PrEP is available on the NHS in Wales and Scotland. In October 2017, the IMPACT trial commenced in England, with PrEP being rolled out to 10,000 eligible people.
The project will explore and describe MSM and health professional perspectives on PrEP using qualitative interviews in three Northern cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield) and one city in the West Midlands (Birmingham) where PrEP is available through the IMPACT trial. Interviews with a purposive sample of participants (8-12 MSM and 4-8 health professionals per city) will focus on: PrEP awareness and sources of information including eligibility, compliance, drug interaction and online sourcing; impact of PrEP on HIV testing patterns, hepatitis C, sexual risk and other sexually transmitted infections; and on issues related to accessing PrEP and optimal service provision
The project is timely given the current IMPACT trial in England, with results informing policy, practice and professional training.
The Sexually Transmitted Infection Research Foundation (STIRF) is a local charity which supports research relating to all aspects of sexual health including clinical practice, public health, microbiology, health economics and behavioural science.
STIRF wishes to fund a PhD Studentship up to a maximum of £60 000 over 3-4 years and is inviting applications with a closing date of July 31, 2018.
Applications would only be considered from universities in the following UK health regions:
West Midlands, Trent, Yorkshire, Northern and North West regions
For details of how to apply go to:
We are delighted to receive support from STIRF and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity (QEHBC) to fund research in the area of sexual violence.
The project aims to increase our understanding of what matters to patients when they attend health care settings after experiencing sexual violence. This is on the background of the reporting of sexual offences in the UK being at the highest level since introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002, and also an awareness that it can be extremely difficult for patients to present to health care services, disclose what has happened and seek support.
This systematic review will collect data from a wide range of sources and will be reviewed in a robust and thorough manner, to look at patient experience and outcome after attending a range of health care settings. Identifying key themes and practice that are of greatest importance to patients will then be disseminated to a wide and relevant audience so that this can be put into practice.
Infection by Chlamydia trachomatis the commonest bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK and can result in long term complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women.
Once treatment is given to the patient and their partner(s) a test of cure is recommended. However when this should be done is unclear. A similar question hangs over another common sexually transmitted bacterial infection, gonorrhoea.
Dr Gabriel Schembri and his colleagues in Manchester in collaboration with researchers in London have completed a study, part co-funded by STIRF (in conjunction with BASHH) in an effort to answer these questions:
STIRF-015: Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea: persistence of a positive test result after successful treatment.
The study has now finished and was presented at the British Association for sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) meeting in Oxford (July 2016) and won the prize for the best oral presentation.
The investigators showed that the site of infection may have an effect on time to clearance of infection, with pharyngeal gonorrhoea infections and vaginal chlamydia infections taking longer to clear than other sites.
The results of this study will help guide clinicians to the timing for tests of cure.
Applications are invited from researchers in various fields related to sexual health, HIV and other sexually transmitted viruses.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF) was set up to pump prime research projects relating to the epidemiology, pathophysiology, management, and health care delivery of sexually transmitted infections and HIV in the East and West Midland, the North East and North West Regions.
The primary aim is to provide initial funding to allow promising projects from young researchers to obtain preliminary results as a prelude to acquire further funds from larger funding bodies.
We invite applications from researchers in the above regions on projects relating to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. All projects will be initially screened by the Scientific Committee of STIRF and those considered suitable will be sent for peer review by experts in the field.
The following fields of research will be considered in relation to STIs and HIV
- Epidemiology of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
- Research on HPV and other sexually transmissible malignancies
- Health care delivery including views of clients
- Issues relating to deprived or marginalised communities.
- Pathophysiology of diseases and syndromes
- Inter-relationship between diseases
- Treatment modalities
- Complications of treatment and co-morbidities
Applications should not exceed £50,000 in the first year. Depending on satisfactory reports a further £25,000 may be available for the second year. Joint funding with other grant giving bodies will be considered.
For further information and guidance on how to apply visit
How to apply for grants
Deadline for applications is 30th June 2016
Applications using the appropriate form downloaded from the STIRF web site should be sent by email to:
Dr Mohsen Shahmanesh,(Hon Secretary STIRF)
A workshop on philosophical aspects of sexual health is being held at
Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester, United Kingdom
The workshop is run by Dr Phil Hutchinson and was part funded by a research grant from Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF). Project STIRF-026
Workshop 1: The Problem of Selection Bias in Biomedical & Public Health Research. Wednesday September 16
Workshop 2: Shame, Stigma and HIV. Thursday September 17
Venue: Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Mandatory registration: contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be obtained from Phil Hutchinson email@example.com
A large international study (INSIGHT START) published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that starting antiretroviral therapy immediately after human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnosis rather than waiting until a patient’s CD4+ count has declined is of considerable benefit.
The results of the study were also released at the International AIDS Society conference in Vancouver, Canada, on 20 July.
Currently most authorities strongly recommend starting anti-HIV once CD4+ count drops to below 350 cells per cubic millimetre. Until the INSIGHT START study there was no randomized trials showing the benefits and risks of initiating antiretroviral therapy in patients with asymptomatic HIV infection who have a CD4+ count of more than 350 .
START study conducted in 35 countries randomly assigned 4,685 HIV positive patients to either receive immediate antiretroviral therapy (median CD4+ of 650) or wait until their counts fell to below 350.
After a mean follow up of 3 years the study found that 42 patients in the immediate-initiation group died, as compared with 96 patients in the deferred-initiation group (95% confidence interval, 0.30 to 0.62; P<0.001). Reduction in deaths were largely from tuberculosis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and malignant lymphomas – conditions that can occur in HIV-infected individuals with only moderately damaged immune systems.
Currently the WHO requires all patients with HIV to be treated CD4+ of 500 or less. WHO may need to extend that to treating anyone at diagnosis. This would not only benefit the individual but by reducing viral shedding in body secretions reduce transmission and hence have a public health benefit. Moreover some of the costs of starting early would be offset by not needing to perform repeated CD4+ counts.
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), previously predominantly a tropical disease, re-emerged in Western Europe in 2003, and has arguably now regained endemic status in many countries. It remains largely contained within in a population of men who have sex with men (MSM) with high rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, though a first female case was reported in Sexually Transmitted Infections in 2012.
A recent series of papers in Sexually Transmitted Infections sheds further light on the risk factors for rectal LGV in men who have sex with men in the UK, the key symptoms and ways in which LGV presents to the clinician, and pitfalls in the currently recommended treatment and prevention strategies.
Moreover, microbiological characteristic of LGV repeaters using surveillance data has convinced Rönn and colleagues that behaviour alone does not explain reinfection, which they see as related to centrality in sexual networks.
Together these four articles add important information on the clinical presentation, epidemiology and treatment of LGV in MSM.
Talk given at University College London by Maryam Shahmanesh. Maryam studied sex workers in Goa and Karnataka province and the relation of risks to sexual health and HIV and government policy.
STIRF had agreed to fund a project by Steve Wordsworh and colleagues from the Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University investigating the reasons why Somali refugees appear not to access sexual heaalth services. Below is a brief description of the propsed project:
In the United Kingdom there is an established and growing refugee population that have arrived from Somalia. Despite this, the Somali population are often not included in ‘official’ statistics largely because the community is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category.
Because of this we often unaware of the health or social needs of those who arrive in the UK from a Somalia background, therefore it is inevitable that the support and needs of this community is often sadly neglected. So despite a very real need for help and support the uptake of health services is very low.
We are particular concerned with low access to sexual health service from of our local Somali community in Birmingham. So building on expertise in both working with the Somali community and in sexual health, staff from BCU are planning to undertake a study that seeks to explore just what exactly are the sexual health needs of Somali refugees, importantly we will be seeking to gather their views and perspectives directly from the community itself, we aim to found out what they know about sexual health services, the challenges that may prevent them taking up these services and how services could be adapted to best support their needs.
Furthermore, it is our intention that that results from this research can be used to inform service provision by identifying barriers to access and any opportunities that may help to overcome them.