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NAT Welcomes Time to Test for HIV.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NAT has welcomed the Health Protection Agency’s final report published today on expanding HIV testing in England.

The report confirms for the first time that routine ‘opt-out’ HIV testing is “feasible, acceptable and effective” in a wide range of healthcare and community settings.

If implemented, it would see an HIV test offered to everyone signing up to primary care services, and all general hospital admissions, in every high HIV prevalence area across the country.

The recommendations follow an analysis of eight testing pilots conducted by the HPA. They found that opt-out testing not only helped reduce undiagnosed HIV but that take-up among patients was high, with staff also happy to provide the test. Routine opt-out testing was also found to be cost-effective.

Time to Test comes as last month’s House of Lords Select Committee on HIV and AIDS in the UK backed calls for the expansion of opt-out HIV testing.

Yusef Azad, Director of Policy & Campaigns at NAT (National AIDS Trust),  comments:

‘This is an important moment for the UK’s response to HIV.

This report proves that opt-out testing can be done, and that it can save both lives and money. The Government, NHS and local authorities must now act jointly to ensure it is put into practice.’

HPA’s testing pilots were funded by the Department of Health. They follow recommendations contained in the 2008 UK National Guidelines for HIV Testing, published jointly by the British HIV Association (BHIVA), the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the British Infection Society (BIS).

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Notes to the editor:

Time to Test for HIV: Expanding HIV testing in Healthcare and Community services in England is available at www.hpa.org.uk.
A high prevalence area refers to an area where HIV prevalence is greater than two per thousand among 15-59 year olds. This covers about a fifth of the English population.
The HPA’s pilots ran for periods of 3-12 months between 2009 and 2010.
Primary care refers to the principal point of consultation within the English health system, and includes the likes of General Practitioners (GPs). General hospital admissions include the likes of Accident and Emergency (A&E) and acute admissions units.

NAT
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.
www.nat.org.uk


For further information please contact:
Steve Akehurst
Policy Officer
NAT
020 7814 6758
steven.akehurst@nat.org.uk