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"We urgently need new approaches to HIV testing" - NICE quality standard published

NICE recommends increase in routine HIV testing

Terrence Higgins Trust welcomes new quality standard and calls for new approaches to HIV testing.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) has published a quality standard to encourage the uptake of HIV testing. It says that people living in areas with a high prevalence of HIV should routinely be offered HIV tests during healthcare appointments.

Terrence Higgins Trust has welcomed the new standard and calls for new approaches to HIV testing, including making it common practice in GPs and A&Es in high-prevalence areas.

Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "The quality standard published by NICE today is a very welcome step. It gives practical advice for commissioners, service providers and healthcare professionals on what processes need to be in place to improve our approach to HIV testing and how to ensure the guidelines are implemented.

"One in seven people living with HIV do not know that they have it. This not only puts their own health at risk, but also means they may unwittingly pass the virus on to others. The benefits of knowing your HIV status are clear: once diagnosed and on effective treatment a person with HIV can live a long and healthy life and can’t pass on the virus. But increased testing and early treatment is essential to ensure everyone can benefit from this.

"Rates of undiagnosed HIV and late diagnoses remain unacceptably high and we urgently need new approaches to HIV testing that are delivered on a large scale and targeted at those at risk. Testing in GPs and A&Es in high prevalence areas are essential components because, whilst people with undiagnosed HIV may not be using existing HIV testing services, they do visit their GP or hospital, where they could be tested.

"National guidelines have recommended HIV testing in GPs and A&E departments in high prevalence areas for nearly a decade now; but it’s still not common practice and this must change. We have the tools to end HIV transmission in the UK but the first step must be an increase in HIV testing. Hopefully the quality standard published today means we're a step closer to making that a reality."