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Government urged to expand ‘opt-out’ HIV testing programme

28 November 2023

The Secretary of State is being urged to mark World Aids Day by expanding an opt-out virus testing programme that identifies people living with undiagnosed HIV or hepatitis.

More than 550 people with undiagnosed HIV were identified in a pilot programme run in hospitals in London, Brighton, Manchester, and Blackpool. All patients having blood taken in A&E would be tested on an opt-out basis. It is estimated that 4,400 people are living with undiagnosed HIV in England.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee Steve Brine MP said:

“The success of getting life-saving treatment to 553 people who didn’t know they had HIV is proof alone that this opt-out testing programme needs to be rolled out across the country. Thousands more are living without treatment because they haven’t been tested – this provides a key to faster diagnosis and would help meet a target to end new cases of HIV by the end of the decade.

“To mark World Aids Day, we call on the government to announce the expansion of the virus testing programme to A&Es in all areas with a high prevalence of HIV. There could be no better opportunity to save lives.

“Sexual health is one focus in our major inquiry into how to prevent ill-health. This programme offers a major step forward and we urge Ministers to take it.”

Further information

Image credit: PA