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Open Access Study protocol

HIV in East London: ethnicity, gender and risk. Design and methods

Jonathan Elford1*, Jane Anderson2, Cecilia Bukutu1 and Fowzia Ibrahim1

Author Affiliations

1 City University London, Institute of Health Sciences, St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, 24 Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4TY, UK

2 Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Centre for the Study of Sexual Health and HIV, Homerton Row, London E9 6SR, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:150  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-150

Published: 9 June 2006



While men who have sex with men remain the group at greatest risk of acquiring HIV infection in the UK, the number of new diagnoses among heterosexuals has risen steadily over the last five years. In the UK, three-quarters of heterosexual men and women diagnosed with HIV in 2004 probably acquired their infection in Africa. This changing epidemiological pattern is particularly pronounced in East London because of its ethnically diverse population.

Design and methods

The objective of the study was to examine the social, economic and behavioural characteristics of patients with HIV infection currently receiving treatment and care in hospitals in East London. The research focused on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, education, employment, housing, HIV treatment, stigma, discrimination, religion, migration and sexual risk behaviour. People diagnosed with HIV infection attending outpatient treatment clinics at St Bartholomew's, the Royal London, Whipp's Cross, Homerton, Newham and Barking hospitals (all in East London) over a 4–6 month period were invited to participate in the study in 2004–2005. Those who agreed to participate completed a confidential, self-administered pen-and-paper questionnaire. During the study period, 2680 patients with HIV attended the outpatient clinics in the six participating hospitals, of whom 2299 were eligible for the study and 1687 completed a questionnaire. The response rate was 73% of eligible patients and 63% of all patients attending the clinics during the survey period.


A clinic-based study has allowed us to survey nearly 1700 patients with HIV from diverse backgrounds receiving treatment and care in East London. The data collected in this study will provide valuable information for the planning and delivery of appropriate clinical care, social support and health promotion for people living with HIV not only in East London but in other parts of the capital as well as elsewhere in the UK.