29 November 2016

On 29th November 2016 SWIFT was delighted to support Juno Roche and CliniQ (https://cliniq.org.uk/) 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 (http://www.theequalityacademy.com/).

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. 

11 May 2016

The 3rd SWIFT workshop will be held in Central London on the afternoon of 11 May 2016.  The theme of the workshop will be “Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing” All current members of SWIFT will receive an email invitation. More details soon.

29 September 2015

Over 40 SWIFT members attended the2nd SWIFT workshop in Central London on 29September 2015.  The theme of the workshop was “Telling others about HIV”.  We heard the chair of SWIFT Yvonne Gilleece give an overview of international work on HIV and what is sometimes termed “disclosure”.   Professor Matthew Weait talked about HIV disclosure and the law.  Finally we heard some powerful personal accounts from an expert panel of women living with HIV.  All talks are available here.  Following presentations, we broke out into smaller groups to start brainstorming research ideas and heard about the latest developments with our website.

28 April 2015

We were delighted to welcome over 30 members from across the UK and Ireland to our inaugural SWIFT meeting in Central London.  We heard an overview of the project from our chair Yvonne Gilleece, and had an insight into an exciting new research project looking at the menopause and HIV from Steering Group member Shema Tariq.  After some networking time, the group came together to brainstorm key themes in research in HIV and women.  These themes will inform the development of our special interest groups.