Love, Sex, Life is our exciting new partnership in collaboration with sexual health and wellbeing experts Brook, BAME-led sexual health agency Naz, and Social Impact Communications Agency, Shape History.
Now more than ever, our sexual health matters. Unfortunately, too many people face barriers to their sexual and reproductive health. Love, Sex, Life – an initiative commissioned by the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham – aims to challenge these barriers by delivering high quality, culturally sensitive sexual health services and education across these three boroughs, which currently have the highest rates of people testing positive for HIV in England.
Following national HIV testing week, which took place between 1st – 7th February 2021, Love, Sex, Life hosted a panel discussion focusing on normalising HIV testing, treatment, and prevention in BAME communities.
Chanel Noel, Head of Programmes at Blueprint for All, had the privilege of moderating the panel, and shares her key reflections below:
The webinar kickstarted a discussion on how we could build a local, multidisciplinary approach to HIV promotion, to increase awareness and reduce stigma. Hearing from the expert panel was a tangible learning experience, and it was great to see so many attendees weighing in and asking questions about the best approach to reducing stigma and taboos surrounding HIV, as well as the importance of HIV testing and prevention.
What came through strongly in the conversation was the importance of BAME communities – specifically Black African, Caribbean, and Afro-Latinx communities – partaking in regular and proactive HIV testing. The panel shared the importance of those aged 50-64, those of Black African ethnic heritage and women – more so if anyone’s identity falls into two or more of the categories, partaking in testing as the impacts of late testing on these groups lead to avoidable health impacts.
It was said that open and informative conversations about HIV should happen alongside wider conversations around sexual health and health overall, to help reduce the existing inequalities that negatively impact those whose identities exist within the BAME categorisation, especially those who are Black.
The panel discussion demonstrated the positive strides in conversation that the Love, Sex, Life partnership is sparking in the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham.
The expert panel included:
Marc Thompson, co-director of The Love Tank: Marc is a health promotion and communications specialist with over 25 years’ experience working in Public Health and social justice. His work has focused on Black and queer communities, sexual health, and HIV and he is particularly interested in the intersection of race, sexuality, and HIV. The Love Tank is a not-for-profit community interest group that promotes the health and wellbeing of under-served communities through education, capacity building and research.
Dr Vanessa Apea, consultant physician in Genito-urinary and HIV medicine: Dr Apea is also the clinical lead for sexual health at Barts Health NHS Trust, and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London.
Jason Okundaye, writer and columnist: Okundaye is a South London based writer and columnist at Tribune Magazine, who predominantly writes on LGBT issues and racism.
You can read more about our Love Sex Life partnership here as well as keeping an eye out for future partnership updates across our socials: