Sexual Health Improvement (SHIP) HIT 2022-23

HIT co-directors Jeremy Horwood, Jo Copping and Emma Harding-Esch look back at the HIT's achievements in the last year.

  • 1st April 2023

Accelerating work to end HIV

The HIT has developed a new action plan focussed on supporting vulnerable and stigmatised populations who are disproportionately affected by HIV.

As part of the Fast Track Cities initiative, Unity Sexual Health launched sexual health test vending machines across the region, to provide an easy, free, fast and confidential way to test for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. HIT member Jo Kesten is evaluating the acceptability of the service and will be sharing this information with Unity to improve the service.

Common Ambition Bristol works with people in African and Caribbean heritage communities to encourage engagement with HIV treatment. They have set up a testing clinic specifically for these communities, which is also increasing access to PrEP, a drug which can reduce your chance of getting HIV. They have also launched a website, attended awareness-raising events, co-produced a film to bust common HIV myths, began community outreach in barber shops and featured on a BBC Radio1Xtra podcast to help share the information and reduce stigma.

Hearts and Minds is a collaborative training resource using creative engagement to reduce HIV stigma in healthcare staff, co-produced by the HIT. The successful pilot project and initial evaluation is now complete, and, and  the free resources are live and available to use nationally. Information about the evaluation and the tool is being shared through conferences, national Fast Track Cities structures and Health Education England. A local strategy has been developed to engage with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Learning Academy and Training Hub, and to target specific teams in our Trusts with the training, and evaluation.

Understanding sexual health needs and inequalities better

Young survivors of childhood sexual abuse have worked closely with staff from the Paediatric Sexual Abuse Referral Centre to examine and make concrete and immediate changes to the paediatric patient pathway, including STI testing. The HIT is supporting an evaluation of the impact the changes have made to the service and the effectiveness of working with the young people involved.

With VCSE partners, the HIT developed a survey to measure levels of stigma, questions from which have been included in the Bristol Quality of Life Survey. This survey will be repeated annually to assess change in attitudes over time.

The HIT has supported a comprehensive sexual health needs assessment for BNSSG. This includes looking at population level outcomes, service data, reviewing our current assets, and the evidence base and exploring the views of patients. This has helped us to identify the current and future sexual health needs of the region and focus on inequalities (especially around deprivation and ethnicity). The results will inform sexual health strategy development and commissioning.

Improving Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive access and uptake

HIT co-director Jo Copping is working on a new project to explore how to address inconsistent access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) in primary care. The HIT is also looking at the use of Women’s Health Hubs, which were highlighted in the Women’s Health Strategy for England as a model for bringing together contraception such as LARC, cervical screening and menopause care.

The HIT secured funding for a two-year pilot of postpartum LARC at our local acute hospital trusts. The project team has appointed a project manager and organised the training of obstetric staff.

Working nationally for local benefit

HIT co-director Jeremy Horwood is involved in the evaluation of the national pilot programme delivering opt out HIV, hepatitis B and C testing in Emergency Departments. Our Integrated Care System will benefit from early findings.

Funding enabled in 2022-23

SHIP HIT helped secure £4,136,041 in 2022-23 for research, improving outcomes and addressing health inequalities.