HIV diagnoses ‘on the rise’: Lambeth has highest rate in UK

Lambeth has the highest rate of HIV diagnoses of all UK local authorities, according to Public Health England.

Their review of HIV epidemiology in London last year shows the southwest London borough has 14 diagnoses per 1,000 residents.

Wandsworth Oasis, an HIV awareness and prevention charity, provides support for people living with the virus and raises money through charity shops and events in southwest London.

“There certainly is a rise in the number of people with an HIV diagnosis,” said CEO Gill Perkins. “Certainly, in South West London there’s quite a high prevalence.”

She continued: “There are a number of factors; there’s the hospitals that provide the support, there’s the demographic of the people who live in the area.

“A high proportion of people with an HIV diagnoses are people from the Afro-Caribbean community and obviously the gay population.

“It’s a combination of the two demographics.”

Wandsworth Oasis, set up almost three decades ago in response to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, is working with businesses in the area who want to get involved with HIV awareness projects in a more creative way.

On Saturday they hosted a summer bandstand event at Clapham Common, in conjunction with Wandsworth LGBT Forum, with free testing by Spectra and entertainment provided by The Clapham Grand.

With a new shop in Clapham Old Town and a number of events arranged for the rest of the summer including comedy nights, open mic nights and sexual health talks, Ms Perkins said the aim was to raise awareness for the work that the charity does.

She added: “It’s really about trying to engage with the communities well before they find themselves actually needing the support, trying to get there up front.

“Really, in a first-world country, we should be able to get to zero diagnoses.

“We don’t have a pandemic like in sub-Saharan Africa, so we believe with community engagement we can help that.”

For details on support and events visit here.

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