Working in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council and Terrence Higgins Trust, we engaged with black African and Caribbean communities to gather feedback on their awareness of HIV testing and sexual health services.

We wanted to find out about:

  • Attitudes to HIV
  • Awareness of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)
  • Awareness of local sexual health services.

We also wanted to learn about potential barriers to accessing these services.

What we did

Using a community-led research approach, we rolled out a survey through two principal host providers:

  • A Nigerian coffee shop on Desborough Road, High Wycombe
  • A mobile barber covering areas throughout Buckinghamshire.

The survey was distributed among our wide network of community contacts. We had responses from almost 50 people who voices might otherwise have gone unheard.

Key findings

Our key findings included:

  • 53% of survey participants were aware they could get free HIV tests at walk in health centres. However, 70% did not know that HIV tests could be posted to their home address.
  • Almost none of the participants had heard of PrEP or PEP – treatments for HIV prevention.
  • 58% of respondents had considered visiting a sexual health clinic in the past.
  • Face to face and telephone appointments were the preferred methods for contacting sexual health services. Only one third of participants said they would prefer online contact.

Our recommendations

Based on the results of our survey, we recommend that Buckinghamshire Council and Brook (the Council’s new sexual health and wellbeing services provider) develop an integrated communications strategy to deliver information effectively.

This should involve signposting people to the right services in diverse locations, and ensuring that communication about sexual health is targeted to black communities in a non-discriminatory way.

Response to our report

Buckinghamshire Council responded to our report as follows:

The Council welcomes this report from Healthwatch Bucks, which details engagement with black communities in Buckinghamshire about their awareness of HIV testing and sexual health services. We are delighted Healthwatch will be presenting the findings of the report to our Buckinghamshire multi-agency sexual health network. We will also be reviewing the recommendations as part of the refresh of our sexual and reproductive health strategy which will be published later this year.


HIV awareness – full report

Published on 21 Jun, 2023 (updated 19 Jul, 2023)

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