The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has released the latest epidemiological data on HIV in the United Kingdom, showing that in 2011 an estimated 96,000 people were living with HIV, but that 24% of them were unaware of their infection.
And, among those who were newly diagnosed with HIV, 47% were diagnosed late (with a CD4 count below 350). While this is an improvement on 2002’s figure of 60%, several other countries do better in diagnosing people earlier. There are inequalities too, with heterosexual men and black African people most likely to be diagnosed late.
The HPA has found that few sexual health commissioners in high-prevalence areas have commissioned HIV testing in GP surgeries or in hospital admissions units, although BHIVA and NICE guidelines recommend this.
In the HPA’s annual HIV report, six of its eight recommendations concern testing, including:
- Annual testing for men who have sex with men (MSM) – or every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners
- “Regular” testing for black African and Caribbean people who have unprotected sex with new or casual partners.
- In high-prevalence areas, implementation of routine HIV testing for new GP patients and new hospital admissions.
- Clinicians outside of sexual health settings should take every opportunity to offer HIV testing to MSM and black African or Caribbean people.