Dr Olwen Williams
1st May 2018
After the flurry of activity in my first 100 days, I am basking in May sunshine, following the Royal Wedding celebrations and delighted to be listening to representatives from the HIV Charities that are beneficiaries of Royal Wedding charitable donations and support from the newlyweds. One cannot underestimate the impact that such profile raising has on both challenging stigma, improved HIV testing uptake and a sense of our community being heard. The media’s role in getting the message across is not to be underestimated. Let’s wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a long and happy marriage.
It was not the only big headline, the ‘Super – Gonorrhoea ‘case, hit the World media in April. The first global case of high –level resistance to azithromycin and ceftriaxone, along with several other vital antibiotics was diagnosed in the UK. Subsequently, 2 other cases from Australia have been notified to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. This highlights the imperative to have Sexual Health services that are accessible in a timely manner and offer effective identification and management of infected individuals, performing a routine test of cure and partner notification in line with BASHH guidelines which are in the process of being updated. It is essential that we continue to culture Gonorrhoea NAAT positive samples, reminding our commissioners that cutting this service would be a false economy. Our submission to the request for evidence on Public Health Prescribed Measures and joint open letter to Jeremy Hunt Health Minister highlighted the issues of dis-investment in services in the face of such challenges as antimicrobial resistance.
Our joint conference with BHIVA in Edinburgh attracted over 1000 delegates. The scientific programme was exceptional with excellent oral and poster presentations. Who will forget ‘We All Love Kissing’! I must congratulate everyone who was involved in making it such a successful meeting especially Daniel Richardson and Laura Walters, who sprinkled some magic pixie dust over the whole event. Diolch.
The success of the conference did raise the question, whether we should have more frequent BASHH /BHIVA joint conferences –would appreciate your views on that.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for me to meet –up with our Community partners /Third sector. There has been a significant amount of co-working and co-operation between sexual health /HIV organisations over the past months in response to several issues that affect our patient population. These include a successful amendment to Chris Bryant Private members’ bill on Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill and our support helped NAT convince the Government to suspend the Memorandum of Understanding on Data Sharing on non-clinical data between NHS Digital and the Home Office.
You may have spotted that NICE are in the process of producing Standards for Sexually Transmitted Infections. We have submitted our suggestions on five areas we feel these standards should cover. These standards will complement our own – more information can be found on the NICE website.
Our #SexualHealthSoS campaign continues, with approximately 7,500 individuals signed up. There has been significant media interest in the impact of financial cuts are having on services across the UK but particularly in England. A team for the BBC have been investigating the impact of the cuts and a programme is due to be broadcast in early June. We are also presenting at the APPG regarding ‘Impact of cuts on Sexual Health’ on June 24th –everyone is welcome to attend.
Celebrations? I do think we can celebrate that we are keeping a high profile on the challenges we face, let us hope it isn’t falling on deaf ears.