Community grants programme launched as Leeds marks one year on from becoming fast-track city working to end HIV, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics: HIV Testing Week - Copy

05 Feb 2024

Community grants programme launched as Leeds marks one year on from becoming fast-track city working to end HIV, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics


National HIV Testing Week runs from Monday 5 February

A new grants programme has been launched in Leeds to support communities and residents living with HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and viral hepatitis as the city marks one year on from becoming a global fast-track city.

Signed on February 7 last year during National HIV Testing Week - Getting to Zero – Launch of the Leeds Fast-Track City Initiative – Leeds joined cities around the world committed to working together to end new HIV, TB and viral hepatitis infections by the end of the decade.

A key element of the commitment was community involvement, which will be reinforced through the new Leeds Fast-Track Cities communities grants programme. Overseen by Leeds City Council, BHA Leeds Skyline and MESMAC, the programme will award grants of up to £700 to groups in Leeds to express their lived experiences especially around stigma and discrimination, and its impacts on people living with HIV, TB, or viral hepatitis. For more information visit Fast Track Cities Leeds Community Grants - BHA for Equality (

Leeds is one of the first Fast-Track Cities in the UK to commit to eliminating viral hepatitis and ending TB as well as HIV, as these conditions can be co-targeted.

Ahead of National HIV Testing Week ‘I Test’ which runs from Monday 5 February, the council and health partners in the city are calling on people to take advantage of free, quick, confidential tests available across Leeds as well as ordering online tests nationwide via

Testing is vital as people can live with HIV for a long time without any symptoms. Anyone diagnosed with HIV in the UK can access free treatment and support, helping them to stay healthy and avoid passing the virus onto anyone else. Regular testing helps to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and poor health outcomes associated with late HIV diagnosis. 

The testing campaign in Leeds is run as a partnership between Yorkshire MESMAC and the Leeds Sexual Health Service, with support from Leeds City Council.  

The Fast-Track City leadership group is chaired by Dr Sarah Schoeman (Sexual Health and HIV Consultant, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust) and co-chaired by Tom Doyle (CEO of Yorkshire MESMAC).

The Fast-Track City initiative has enabled a range of partners across Leeds to come together and develop workstreams, including putting in place opportunistic testing across sectors while engaging the same most at-risk populations. The Leadership Group has been integral to setting up Fast-Track City subgroups to drive workstreams with partners on three key areas: data and intelligence, reducing stigma, and testing and prevention.

The first anniversary of being a fast-track city follows on from the announcement in December last year confirming Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital as being part of a £20million National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) project.

The project will see patients with undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B and C picked up in a new opt-out testing programme to be carried out in 46 more emergency departments in 32 high HIV prevalence areas of the country. 

Leeds City Council executive member for adult social care, public health and active lifestyles Councillor Salma Arif said:   

“One year on from signing up to be a fast-track city, we are determined to keep making progress to help and support people to make their lives better, and at the heart of that is listening to people’s lived experiences so we want to hear from as many people and communities as possible in this new grants programme. As it is National HIV Testing week too we encourage people to take the free testing in person or by ordering online to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed HIV and help them get any treatment and support they may need.”

Tom Doyle, CEO of Yorkshire MESMAC, the charity that delivers the citywide sexual health improvement programme, and Vice Chair of Fast Track Cities Leeds said:

“Becoming a Fast-Track City allows us to take a fresh look at how we do testing across Leeds, exploring how the TB, Hepatitis and HIV outreach programmes can work closer together to offer more tests, to more people, in more places in the most appropriate way. This approach will improve our reach and improve access, especially to the most at risk and most marginalised.”

Dr Sarah Schoeman, Sexual Health and HIV Consultant at Leeds Sexual Health and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Chair of Fast Track Cities Leeds said:

“This week marks our one year anniversary as a Fast Track City alongside national HIV testing week. We are extremely proud that as a city this means we have signed up to working towards the elimination of new HIV, viral hepatitis and TB infections and stigma related to these by 2030. During our first year as a Fast Track City we have strengthened our partnerships locally, nationally and internationally, and have worked to identify gaps and opportunities to develop our next actions.

“We have lots more planned for our second Fast Track City year including more access to testing, more community engagement and more anti-stigma work. We are more united and focused than ever to ensure that we achieve our 2030 goals.”

Notes to editors:

  • For more information relating to HIV and support for people living with HIV in Leeds please contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or
  • Visit Yorkshire MESMAC’s website to book a HIV test and for more information about their services relating to HIV.
  • For more information relating to HIV please contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC on 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or
  • Information on HIV testing sessions in Leeds can be found at or  


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Leeds City Council communications and marketing,


Tel: 0113 378 6007


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team