PrEP in the South West
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Lynn’s Behavioural Scientist Ethan McQuaid was invited to participate in the UK’s largest HIV prevention conference, run by the Terrence Higgins Trust, which brings together colleagues from NHS, local councils, charities and more, all with the common mission of achieving zero new HIV infections, AIDS and HIV related deaths in England by 2030.

On behalf of Lynn, Ethan presented behavioural analysis research into the barriers underpinning PrEP uptake in the South West of England, completed for our client the South West Sexual Health Network. The work importantly improves the understanding of behaviours of individuals dealing with HIV outside of London, which is sparse as most research takes place in the UK capital.

The research specifically aimed to engage hard to reach audiences across the rural South West, which in the context of the conference is extremely pertinent, particularly with its keynote speaker, Professor Kevin Fenton, outlining that despite huge progress made through the ‘towards zero’ Department of Health & Social Care action plan, there was still so much left to do to meet the 2030 target.

Interestingly, one of the objectives of the action plan is to scale up HIV testing in line with national guidelines, this has been majorly achieved by introducing opt-out testing in all emergency departments across England – a great example of the power of defaults, which in reference to Behavioural Science practice at Lynn is a quick and easy win in changing automatic and intuitive behaviours.

After the day opened with the Minister for Public Health and Mental Health, Dr Caroline Johnson MP. Talks from all the UK regions and disciplines ensued, including discussion of medical research on the effectiveness of doxycycline prophylaxsis as PEP and PrEP, research and insights from Kantar, to hearing first hand inspiring stories from HIV positive individuals, the power and inspiration felt in these rooms was immense. We at Lynn felt especially privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved in this life-changing work, which we hope to carry on in the future.

In the case of Monkeypox, we’re seeing a repeat of the mistakes that were made with the AIDS epidemic, as disinformation spreaders seek to blame the LGBTQ+ community for the outbreak, creating a real-world risk of harm. A potential secondary outcome of the focus on the LGBTQ+ community is that non-LGTBQ+ individuals don’t consider themselves to be at-risk, hampering the public health response.

With that being said, we must give thanks to our clients South West Sexual Health Network who allowed us to present the work we completed with them, and what a joy it was to finally, after a long pandemic wait, meet our once virtual clients in the flesh!

For more information about The BS Unit and how we could support your organisation please contact us. 

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