What is the LUSTRUM programme about?

LUSTRUM is a five-year programme of research which aims to:

  • improve the sexual health of heterosexual people and men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • develop strategies to reduce the number of people who are unaware they have HIV (undiagnosed HIV)
  • improve the care of people with bacterial STIs

We focus on people at highest risk of STIs: young people and MSM.

Why do this research?

STIs are increasing and people under 25 and MSM are hardest hit. Chlamydia is the commonest infection and causes infertility in women. In MSM there are steep rises in HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhoea, which is becoming resistant to available antibiotics. This seems to be linked with increased use of digital media and socio-sexual” Apps which offer new ways for people from diverse backgrounds to meet up for sex.

Key to preventing the spread of infection is to rapidly contact, test and manage sex partners of people with STIs and HIV. This is known as partner notification (PN). Current PN is not very effective. We have developed a promising new form of PN called Accelerated Partner Therapy (APT), which needs testing on a large scale. An adapted form could help improve PN for MSM. This could reduce bacterial STIs and also offer new ways of getting MSM tested for HIV - around 25% of MSM with HIV have never been HIV tested and are at high risk of transmitting HIV to sex partners. If we diagnose people with HIV early they can expect good health and normal lifespan. It could also highlight how best to use powerful new HIV prevention strategies.

When did the LUSTRUM programme start and when will it end?

LUSTRUM is a five-year programme, which started in April 2016. The programme will end in March 2021.

Which organisations are involved in LUSTRUM?

LUSTRUM is led from Central and North West London NHS Trust in collaboration with:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
  • Public Health Scotland
  • University of Bern
  • University of Birmingham
  • University College London

How is the LUSTRUM programme funded?

LUSTRUM is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research. NIHR is a national funding body supported by the Department of Health. NIHR aims to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research.

How will the LUSTRUM team achieve its aims?

We will conduct a clinical trial of accelerated partner therapy (APT) with health economics analysis and mathematical modelling to determine best value for money of different approaches. We will interview and hold focus groups with service users, people at risk of STIs and HIV and people most likely to experience difficulties with new remote health care delivery to help us develop new PN methods for MSM. We will use health economics to help select the most promising interventions.

What is accelerated partner therapy (APT)?

Our research team will develop APT, a new method of PN, which will build on past research studies. APT aims to reduce the time taken to inform people that their sexual partner has been diagnosed with an STI or HIV. Diagnosing infections quickly makes it easier to treat infections and prevents new infections.

How will the LUSTRUM team design the APT method?

To design the APT method, we will:

  • Collect information from dating apps to explore how different relationship types are described
  • Review literature about past and current methods of PN - to help find effective or ineffective methods
  • Develop a tool which will help healthcare professionals to identify whether patients are at risk of acquiring or transmitting STIs
  • Explore patients' and healthcare professionals' opinions of this new tool
  • Use feedback from patients, the public and healthcare professionals to help refine the APT method

How will you know if APT is effective?

To explore how effective the APT method is, we will:

  • Test the APT method in 14 clinics during a clinical trial
  • Carry out interviews and focus groups with patients, the public and healthcare professionals to get feedback on the APT method
  • Use information from other research studies and economic and mathematical analyses to decide:
    • whether or not the APT method reduces the time that a person is unaware of their infection
    • which groups of MSM have an STI as well as HIV infection
    • which groups of men can be diagnosed through APT

What will LUSTRUM deliver?

We will deliver:

  • a comprehensive evaluation of a promising new way of PN for heterosexual people with chlamydia
  • new methods of PN for MSM at high risk of STIs and HIV
  • recommendations for the most effective PN approaches to reduce
  • undiagnosed HIV infection in MSM

We will work with key national organisations, public engagement and service user groups to ensure our research matches what people think is important, and the rapid transfer of research findings into every day clinical practice.

When will the APT trial start?

The APT trial will start in Spring 2018. You can register for more information here.

How are patients and the public involved in LUSTRUM?

We will be speaking with patients and public throughout the five year programme during interviews and focus groups.

We also have a patient and public involvement group – we welcome new members. Find out how to get involved here.

What is the patient and public involvement group?

The patient and public involvement group is a group of members of the public. This group shares their opinions on LUSTRUM documents, and planned approaches to our work. The patient and public involvement group members are important for LUSTRUM as they help make sure that what we are doing is relevant, and acceptable. Members of the group are contacted via email a few times each year and may choose when to share their opinions and feedback.

How can I get involved in LUSTRUM or the APT trial?

You can register for updates on the LUSTRUM programme by filling in this contact form or you can share your thoughts about LUSTRUM by emailing iph.lustrum@ucl.ac.uk.

How can I join the patient and public involvement group?

We welcome new members. If you would like to join our patient and public involvement panel group, please email iph.lustrum@ucl.ac.uk and we can tell you all about it.

What will the LUSTRUM programme achieve?

The LUSTRUM programme aims to produce a new and effective method of PN, called APT. The new method will be suited to different groups of people; including people aged 16-24 and MSM.

Where can I get an HIV or STI test?

To find your nearest STI clinic - click here

To find your nearest place to test for HIV - click here

Where can I get condoms?

You can get a wide range of condoms at incredibly low prices at freedoms.

Where can I get more information about STIs, HIV and/or get tested?

For more information about STIs - click here

For more information about HIV- click here

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