HIV Tests for All Could Pick Up 20,000 New Cases
Health agency calls for universal HIV tests
Universal testing for HIV should be introduced in areas of the country with the highest rates of the disease, the UK's public health agency says.
The move would reduce the number of people infected with HIV who do not know they have it - estimated to be more than 20,000 - and speed treatment for those diagnosed late, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.
Latest figures show about 91,500 people in the UK were living with the disease in 2010, with a quarter of those unaware they had it. Of the 6,600 newly diagnosed in 2010, half were identified after drug treatment should have started. One in five people visiting a sexually transmitted disease clinic refused the offer of an HIV test. The HPA says universal testing in high-prevalence areas would normalise the process.
Every new patient who registers with a GP or is admitted to hospital in the areas with the highest prevalence of HIV should be offered an HIV test, the agency says. The move was recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) in March.
There are 38 areas with high prevalence of the infection - 27 in London and the rest in areas such as Brighton and Manchester.
Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, said: "We want to see increased access to testing. …