London ,

HIV charity receives grant to support sufferers of sexual abuse

Ahead of World AIDS Day (1st December), East London HIV charity, Positive East, has received over £76,000 to fund its work with HIV positive women who have experienced rape and sexual violence.

The grant, from the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust will support Positive East’s Re:Assure project, which seeks to empower female refugees and asylum seekers, living in East London.

The project provides counselling, group work and peer mentoring for these women who live in challenging economic, health and social circumstances. The counselling led by qualified clinical psychologists, is aimed at improving the mental health of women who have experienced rape, often resulting in their being infected with HIV. In addition to helping the women cope with everyday challenges, the counselling assists victims to deal with the stigma of disclosure and offers advice on building healthy relationships.

There are currently around 108,000 people in the UK living with HIV, with around half that figure living in London. To raise awareness of the virus and prevent onward transmission, Positive East delivers prevention work in community centres, churches, gay bars, shops, schools, libraries and colleges. Each year, more than 10,000 people seek the advice and services of the charity.

Liam Clipsham, Trust and Foundations Officer at Positive East, said: “Whilst World AIDS Day can remind us of how far we have come in terms of the prognosis for people with the virus, a lot still needs to be done regarding attitudes to those with infected. For some communities such as asylum seekers and recent immigrants, HIV holds a massive risk of discrimination. The backing of City Bridge Trust will help us meet increasing demand for our work among women who face complex challenges. The grant will directly benefit around 100 women in the local area and go towards funding the much needed mental health support services we offer.”

Jeremy Mayhew, Chairman of the City Bridge Trust, said: “It has been over 30 years since the HIV virus was discovered; although health prospects and treatments have dramatically improved, sufferers can still face huge social stigma. The work of Positive East and its Re:Assure project is vital in reaching women from immigrant and asylum seeker communities, who often feel powerless and voiceless.

“The counselling sessions will help women from these communities to share their experience with others to realise there is support available to improve their health and wellbeing, and to deal with their traumatic past.”

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