Hospitals & GPs “Failing to Offer” HIV Tests, Investigation Finds

An investigation has unearthed something worrying – UK hospitals and Doctors are failing to meet recommendations to offer routine HIV tests to patients.

This investigation was conducted by the BBC and it found that hospitals in both England and Scotland are failing to meet HIV testing recommendations.

According to British HIV Association guidance, people living in areas with a high prevalence for HIV infections should be offered HIV testing routinely when they visit a GP or a hospital.

Despite this, within 54 high prevalence areas in England, 82% of them were found to be failing to offer HIV tests in accordance with the guidelines, and a worrying 70% of them didn’t fund HIV testing at all at Doctors’ surgeries.

Kat Smithson, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the National AIDS Trust, had this to say to PinkNews: “Back in 2014/15 NAT found that only a quarter of local authorities with a high prevalence of HIV were commissioning HIV testing in GP surgeries and even fewer in hospital settings.”

“This data shows only a slight increase in commissioning of these testing services in the past year. It’s a great shame that people still cannot access testing as standard in these settings. Testing for HIV in GP surgeries and on admission to hospital has enormous potential to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise test, and to diagnose people earlier. All too often when people are diagnosed with HIV it turns out we’ve missed these vital opportunities somewhere along the way.”

“One thing commissioners of testing told us back in 2015 is that making the funding available for testing doesn’t translate to it being used.There still seem to be significant barriers to normalising testing for HIV in medical settings outside the GUM clinic.”

“Sometimes medical staff don’t feel confident offering the test or don’t see it as relevant. We need to identify these barriers and deal with them to normalise testing. HIV testing is not expensive, but it can have a significant impact if more people are diagnosed on time and are on treatment.”

A Department of Health representative for England also chimed in to the BBC: “Over the next five years, we will invest more than £16bn in local government public health services. While councils have had to make savings, they have also shown that good results can be achieved at the same time, and are best placed to understand where money is best spent”.

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