All posts by Suraj Sodha

Monday  – June 12th 2017 2- 5pm

Over 40 SWIFT members attended this half day SWIFT workshop in London on 12th June 2017. The theme of the workshop was addressing gender-based violence (GBV) experienced by women living with HIV in the UK. The session was chaired by Professor Jane Anderson and Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan. Dr Dhairyawan set the scene by talking about links between GBV and HIV in the UK. Professor Charlotte Watts then gave a global perspective on the issue and Dr Neha Pathak discussed how screening for domestic abuse was being carried out in NHS settings in the UK. Dr Alice Welbourn gave a community perspective on the issue and talked about how it linked to womens’ human and sexual and reproductive rights. Lynda Shentall then presented initial findings from her research study on this issue. Following presentations, we broke out into smaller groups and brainstormed research ideas to further investigate the issue in the UK and discussed some potential next steps.

Link to presentations >>

A storify of the tweets can be found here:

20th July 2017

On 20th July this guideline was launched in London. The launch was co-hosted by the Royal College of Gynaecologists and the World Health organisation. The launch was attended by Fungai Murau, representing Swift Women.

To read a summary of the evening through tweets on Spotify click here:

This guideline responds to requests from organizations, institutions and individuals for guidance which consolidates existing recommendations specific to women living with HIV along with new recommendations and good practice statements. It is expected to support front-line health-care providers, programme managers and public health policy-makers around the world to better address the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women living with HIV.

To read the full guideline, follow link below:

06 March 2017

Jacqui Stevenson is a PhD researcher based at the University of Greenwich, exploring experiences of ageing amongst women living with HIV in the UK. She writes “Women’s experiences of ageing with HIV in the UK: a feminist, participatory and assets-based exploration’ is a doctoral research project that explores the experiences and needs of women growing older with HIV in London. It aims to add to the body of evidence around ageing and HIV, as people live longer with HIV due to effective treatment, and older people acquire and are diagnosed with HIV. With a specific focus on women and the gendered experiences of ageing, this research explores how women are responding and adapting to ageing with HIV, with a specific focus on community, social support, social and healthcare needs and the role of the State and third sector services in meeting these needs. In this summary, preliminary findings from three participatory workshops with older women living with HIV are presented. Findings include the impact of loneliness and isolation, challenges associated with ageing, managing HIV and treatment and the menopause, barriers to forming and maintaining relationships, the value of HIV support services, and wider challenges such as migration and housing.”

12 February 2017

The 7th International Workshop on HIV and Women in Seattle (held on 11-12 February 2017) brought together experts from around the world to talk about issues affecting women. There were a range of interesting poster and oral presentations encompassing all aspects of HIV care in women from adolescence to older age. SWIFT were delighted to present results from a literature review exploring mental health care of women living with HIV in the UK. The rest of the presentations from the conference are available online here.

29 November 2016

On 29th November 2016 SWIFT was delighted to support Juno Roche and CliniQ ( in hosting ‘Finding Our T Spot’. This round table event (also funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation), brought together over 30 key stakeholders from all sectors including the community, academia and clinical services to discuss the health research needs of people from trans communities.

The afternoon was facilitated by Razia Aziz from the Equality Academy (

Presentations from the afternoon can be accessed here. The report is available here.  We have storified the day’s tweets here

25 October 2016

On 29th November, CliniQ and SWIFT will be hosting a joint event focusing on the health and wellbeing of transgender communities.

From worldwide data we know that transgender women are disproportionately impacted by HIV. Some data suggests that 19% of all transgender women are HIV positive. In areas where there are concentrated populations of say trans sex workers it is far easier to be accurate about the numbers of this key population who are positive and therefore to direct research and public health funding and campaigns to support them.

Sadly though even when there is adequate data to show that trans women are greatly impacted by HIV there is seldom targeted research and/or money to combat and support. Far too frequently transgender women are recorded as MSM and therefore any research is structured around an entirely different key population, the results often only show that under these terms transgender women appear non-adherent and as poor research subjects.

As a transgender women who is HIV and who once was a sex worker I can clearly state that my experience was entirely different to those MSM who became positive around the same time as I did, the very early 90s, and that the set of life experiences I had,  that often lead to one of the most marginalised, invisible communities being exposed to great risks, need exploring on their own terms.

What we do know about transgender people in this country is largely based on anecdote and guesswork. We are perceived to be a depressed community and therefore there is a presumed linear thread to both extremes. This has great truth embedded within but so far research has been conducted using ill-fitting frames of reference and often emotive language that does not hold up structural and systemic change.

Sadly the research on transgender men is almost entirely lacking (echoing the research on lesbians, bisexual women and HIV) and has its basis in a sexist notion that somehow trans men have an inextricable link to the ‘risks of women’ and are therefore not a key population.

Currently there is a real trend to include transgender women (especially) within emerging narratives (PrEP for example) but the inclusion is without data and therefore we are fragile words within the narrative because our needs, desires and risks are yet to be documented in any meaningful way thus leaving us almost the ‘babies in the bath water’.

This invitation-only event is the first of its kind to bring together some of the most incisive and experienced research minds in this field with campaigners, activists and media representatives in order to begin the conversation around the creation, collection and understanding of research which looks at the  transgender community, our  lives, HIV and holistic wellbeing

Juno Roche (Patron of CliniQ and Member of SWIFT Steering Group)

25 October 2016

Networking through the SWIFT community has led to the development of a partnership between Dr Katharine Low (Lecturer in Applied Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and the HIV and sexual health charity NAZ.   This has resulted in two ongoing projects:

  • MA Applied Theatre students  worked on the 1000 Women project helping to develop monologues for the website
  • BA Drama, Applied Theatre & Education students worked in collaboration with NAZ, using stories and facts gathered by NAZ to develop workshops considering stigma and HIV for young people to take into primary and secondary schools in London.