Blood-borne viruses – Big push to get Bristol Tested.

On the 1st of December every year we celebrate World Aids Day. This year we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce an exciting project we have been working on over the last couple of months. We are aiming to provide bloodborne virus testing for every person currently housed in emergency COVID accommodation or hostels in Bristol.

BDP was set up by a group of probation workers in 1984 with money that was being allocated by the government at the time as a direct response to the HIV epidemic in the UK. In the time since then, we have continued to target BBV’s. Here at BDP we provide free access to clean injecting equipment, free access to contraception, free BBV screening and have a dedicated NHS BBV specialist nurse based on site who provides healthcare and support to anyone who is affected by a BBV.

Coronavirus has presented a lot of difficulties in the way we operate however it has presented us with an ideal situation to scale up out BBV testing within Bristol’s street homeless community. During the period of the pandemic, the majority of the community was housed in hostels and emergency accommodation. This gave us a perfect opportunity to be able to connect with a community that can often be challenging to meet. In collaboration with Terrence Higgins Trust and Unity Sexual Health, we embarked on a comprehensive scheme of testing with the goal of micro eliminating BBV’s within the street homeless population. 

To achieve this we have:

Tested 200 people for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Syphilis with the option of the Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia test.

Assigned a member of staff to work alongside BBV nurse which greatly increased our testing capacity.

Been able to offer shopping vouchers as an incentive for being tested. 

Offered on-site testing at all of the emergency accommodations and the majority of hostels across Bristol.

Worked closely with Hepatology at Bristol Royal Infirmary getting any positive cases into treatment as soon as possible.

We are now nearing the end of this 12-week scheme and we will be publishing our results and experiences on our website in the near future so watch out on the News section of the website and our social media channels for that. 

A final big thanks go to Terrence Higgins Trust and Unity Sexual Health as without their ongoing collaboration on this project we wouldn’t have been able to complete the work we have done without their support.

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