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‘Champions’ being recruited to help tackle high levels of HIV in Telford African communities

‘Champions’ being recruited to help tackle high levels of HIV in Telford African communities

Terrence Higgins Trust’s Midlands project, Champions of Change, is looking for volunteers to become influential ‘champions’, empowering and educating them to help address high rates of HIV among black African communities in Telford and Shropshire.

Local champions are at the heart of the Champions of Change project which launched last October. Equipping volunteers with the skills and knowledge in HIV and sexual health to engage with communities helping tackle HIV stigma and increase testing where HIV is most prevalent.

Almost 300 black Africans were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2014 in the Midlands and East of England, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. Black Africans account for almost half of people living with HIV in the Midlands.

Volunteers will be trained on the realities of HIV today and use their skills to provide information, safe sex resources and encourage free and simple HIV tests at events and faith centres, strengthening outreach to at risk communities.

Chenai Dhliwayo, Project Lead for Champions of Change in Shropshire and Telford, said:

“Local volunteer champions from the black African community are vital in helping us build up the strong relationships and trust we need to get to the heart of these communities to battle HIV stigma and increase testing.

“Black Africans are disproportionately affected by HIV and are often diagnosed late. That is why we are tackling the issues head on, empowering the local community with the training and knowledge that HIV is a manageable, long term health condition.”

Champion volunteer training takes place on Wednesday 23 March, at Terrence Higgins Trust, Roy Fletcher Centre, 17 Cross Hill, Shrewsbury. Those interested are asked to express their interest by 21 March, contacting Chenai Dhliwayo on chenai.dhliwayo@tht.org.uk or 01952 221410.

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