Today the Government has announced £20 million to hugely expand its highly successful opt-out HIV testing programme to emergency departments in an additional 33 areas with high HIV prevalence.

This investment in HIV testing is crucial as part of Government’s commitment to ending new HIV cases by 2030 and to help diagnose the estimated 4,400 people in England who are unaware they are HIV positive.

This expansion means HIV and hepatitis testing will now happen in 46 A&Es in 33 areas like Birmingham, Portsmouth, Derby and Peterborough on an opt-out basis.

The decision comes after opt-out HIV testing being launched in London, Brighton, Manchester and Blackpool from April 2022, following highly successful pilots.

Richard Angell, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'Today’s announcement is the testing turbo boost we need if we are to end new HIV cases by 2030. It’s hugely significant that an additional two million HIV tests will be carried out in A&Es over the next year thanks to a temporary but wholesale expansion of opt-out HIV testing to 46 additional hospitals.

'With this landmark investment, opt-out HIV testing in A&Es will account for more than half of all tests in England. This major ramping up of testing is absolutely crucial to find the 4,400 people still living with undiagnosed HIV.

'The evidence is crystal clear: testing everyone having a blood test in Emergency Departments for HIV works. It helps diagnose people who wouldn’t have been reached via any other testing route and who have often been missed before. It also saves the NHS millions, relieves pressure on the health service and helps to address inequalities with those diagnosed in A&E more likely to be of Black ethnicity, women and older people.

'The announcement follows dogged campaigning from HIV and hepatitis organisations, as well as politicians who could see the life-changing impact of this approach to expanding HIV testing. This achievement has been a joint effort including our sector partners, amazing HIV clinicians and our wonderful and dedicated supporters who have donated to our organisation, written to MPs and NHS leaders. We could not have done this without them.'

Those diagnosed through opt-out testing are now able to access effective treatment meaning they can live a healthy life and won’t pass on HIV to anyone else.

Opt-out testing pilots found that those diagnosed via A&Es are more likely to be Black African, women and older people, which are all groups at higher risk of late diagnosis when their health is already compromised. The evidence shows that opt-out testing is finding people who are less likely to access a sexual health clinic or be tested in any other setting.

Opt-out HIV testing relieves pressure on A&Es and the wider NHS. Data from Croydon University hospital found that when they first started opt-out testing the average hospital stay for a newly diagnosed HIV patients with almost 35 days. Now, the average stay is just 2.4 days.