Positive Support Services in North Yorkshire and York
NYAA provides support for people in North Yorkshire and York who are living with or affected by HIV. From 1st July 2015, our support services will be delivered as part of our Partnership with York Teaching Hospital NHS under the recognised name YorSexualHealth.
On this website, you can find more information about who we are in the “About NYAA” section and what we do – what services we can provide – in the “Services” section. There is also an overview of information about HIV and HIV treatment in the “Information About HIV” section, with suggestions on where to find reliable, more detailed information. And there is also a “News” section, for news not only about NYAA, but also about things to do with HIV that might be of interest.
You can find our contact details here.
Topics on this page include the following: you can jump to them by clicking on the headings below:
Less frequent CD4 and viral load tests
Recently, there has been a move to people who are doing well on HIV treatment having their viral load and CD4 counts monitored less frequently. A large observational study, looking at data from almost 40,000 people from Europe and the United States, has looked into this issue. The researchers examined the results of people who began HIV treatment and who had an undetectable viral load within a year.
After this point, their CD4 and viral load was monitored according to one of three strategies:
- every three months
- every six months
- every nine to twelve months.
Two years later, there were no differences in the most important clinical outcomes – AIDS-related illnesses or deaths. These events were rare but were spread evenly between the groups.
The researchers then looked at people having a sustained increase in viral load above 200 copies/ml, in other words ‘virological failure’. People who had monitoring every six months were no more likely to have this happen than people with monitoring every three months. The researchers concluded that the frequency of monitoring for people with an undetectable viral load can be safely reduced from every three months to every six months.
As a result, proposed new guidelines from the British HIV Association suggest that, once people have had an undetectable viral load for at least a year, their viral load should be checked every three to six months, but their CD4 count no longer needs to be monitored. But if their viral load increased, or they had HIV-related symptoms, then the CD4 count would be monitored again.
You can find out more on this issue in NAM’s booklet ‘CD4, viral load & other tests’.
Drugs or Alcohol?
The number of people acquiring HIV in the UK continues to rise year on year, particularly for men who have sex with men (MSM). It has been suggested that this is to a large extent driven by drugs or “chemsex”. The Gay Men’s Sex Survey recently asked gay men living with diagnosed HIV, “How large a part do you think alcohol played in your acquiring HIV?” They were asked a similarly worded question about recreational and illicit drugs.
Whereas 31% said that alcohol played a part in their HIV infection, 23% thought other drugs played a part. This suggests that alcohol plays as big a role as drugs or ‘chemsex’ in men acquiring HIV. And more than half of men (58%) said that neither drugs nor alcohol played a role in them becoming HIV positive.
This suggests that the issue is more complex than just being driven by drug use. This needs to be reflected in any future HIV prevention campaigns.
The survey also showed that one of the most important ways which gay men with HIV reduce risks during sex is to know their current viral load (72%). Having a sustained non-detectable viral load significantly reduces the risk on onward transmission of HIV. Many more men mentioned this than using condoms (35%). Men completing the survey also reduced risks by using lubricant for intercourse, having regular sexual health check-ups and getting infections treated, talking about HIV and STIs with potential sex partners and avoiding anal sex altogether.
Easter Get-together 2016
NYAA held an Easter get-together at its offices in York. We were lucky to have a wonderfully sunny (if somewhat chilly!) day for it, and there was a good turnout of staff, friends and acquaintances. It was a great chance to meet and catch up over tea and cakes…or hot BBQ sausage buns for those who preferred a savoury snack!
Drop-ins will be held for coffee, cakes and catch-up over the next few months, not only in york, but also in Harogate and Scarborough. Please contact the offce for more details.