The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has released a report evaluating the success of opt-out testing for blood borne viruses in four cities in England, which clearly shows the impact the programme is having on finding people living with undiagnosed HIV and hepatitis.
This report is what the Department of Health and Social Care has been waiting for before making a decision on expansion, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and health ministers.
It also shows the impact that opt-out testing can have on health inequalities, with Black Africans most likely to be diagnosed with HIV – a community more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage.
Now there is nothing holding back a decision to expand opt-out blood-borne virus testing to all areas in England with high HIV prevalence, which would be an additional 43 emergency departments. This expansion would have a huge impact on progress towards Government's goal of ending new HIV cases in the UK by 2030.
Our Chief Executive Richard Angell said: 'Today's report shows HIV opt-out testing is a triumph – its contents make clear opt-out HIV testing is cost-effective, tackles inequalities and highly impactful in finding those living with undiagnosed HIV.
'In just four cities, this innovation has almost doubled the number of HIV tests carried out in England and is successfully changing people’s lives for the better. Hundreds of people now know their status and are on a pathway to life changing treatment – very many of whom would be unlikely to access HIV testing via any other route or when it was too late.
'The Government has committed to making a decision on expanding opt-out testing once they have assessed all the evidence. This report is that evidence. There are now no excuses for further delay. With the second anniversary of the HIV Action Plan fast approaching, it is the time to urgently expand opt-out to more A&Es in England.
'Let’s change even more lives and ensure we make the rapid progress necessary to end new HIV cases by 2030.'