22 November 2013

Raising awareness of HIV testing for early diagnosis

Commenting on National HIV Testing Week (22 - 29 November), Brighton & Hove City Council Director of Public Health Tom Scanlon said: “Swift diagnosis and treatment can give people the best possible chance of a near normal lifespan when living with HIV. Early diagnosis also helps prevent the transmission of HIV to other people from those unaware they have the infection.

“Nationally the populations with the highest reported incidences of HIV are MSM (men who have sex with men) followed by the Black African community. There is a high prevalence of diagnosed HIV in Brighton & Hove, with rates similar to those seen in London, due to the large local gay community.

“In England, late diagnosis levels are approximately 50 per cent whereas in Brighton & Hove the figure is much lower at around 30 per cent. This reflects the work carried out in the city to give people information about and access to HIV testing.

“As part of our ongoing drive to reduce late diagnosis, I have written to all GPs asking for HIV tests to be offered to all men and African women attending surgeries for a blood test of any kind during National HIV Testing Week.”  

Where people can receive HIV testing:

•    All attendees at the genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic will be offered HIV testing
•    All women attending for antenatal screening will be offered HIV testing
•    All women having a termination of pregnancy will be offered HIV testing
•    Women attending the local contraception and sexual health (CASH) clinic will be offered HIV testing as appropriate
•    All general medical admissions to the Royal Sussex County Hospital will be offered HIV testing
•    All clients at the substance misuse service will be offered HIV testing
•    There is a range of HIV testing opportunities in community settings for men who have sex with men (MSM)

Background information:

The number of residents of Brighton & Hove who have accessed NHS funded treatment for HIV in 2012 totals 1,591. This is a rise of 4 per cent from 2011.

Notes to editors:

Public Health England has issued information ahead of National HIV Testing Week to raise awareness of the national campaign.
More details are available here: www.hivpreventionengland.org.uk/Campaigns-Current/National-HIV-Testing-Week