Call for opportunistic GP HIV tests

GPs should be opportunistically testing at-risk populations for HIV when they register as new patients at practices, says the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Latest data for HIV rates in the UK suggest around 73,000 people are living with HIV, but between 17,000 and 27,800 are unaware of their infection.

Worryingly, of the 7,800 new diagnoses of HIV in the UK in 2006, one in three patients were diagnosed late, with a CD4 cell count below 200 cells/mm3, the threshold for starting antiretroviral therapy. These patients are less likely to fully benefit from therapy.

Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV surveillance at the HPA, said she backed the letter sent in September by CMO for England Liam Donaldson urging GPs to boost early HIV diagnosis.

‘We really need to target GPs who are seeing, for example, black African patients,’ said Dr Delpech. ‘Or it may be that when new patients attend a practice that may be a time to test for HIV.’

However, testing all patients ‘would not be practical or feasible’, she said. Instead, GPs should concentrate on those at highest risk.

The latest HPA data shows that those most at risk are homosexual men. But HIV transmission between heterosexuals in the UK is also increasing, with people from black ethnic minorities most at risk, says the HPA.

The HPA audit also suggests sexual health is getting worse among young adults in the UK.

Rates of herpes and genital warts have increased in those aged 16 to 24. Among those being screened for chlamydia, one in ten test positive for the infection.

HPA report

Comment below and tell us what you think 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GMC sign

Gaps in GMC referral and exam pass rates for ethnic minority doctors falling, says GMC

Gaps in fitness to practise referrals and exam pass rates between doctors from white...

Pharmacy shelves

Menopause prescribing advice updated as HRT shortage continues

The British Menopause Society has recommended alternative options for prescribers...

GP sign

Using IIF cash to top up staff pay risks major gap in practice finances, warn accountants

GP practices could face a major cash shortfall in 2024/25 if they use investment...

Paxlovid – one of the treatments available for COVID-19

GPs could play bigger role in prescribing COVID-19 treatments from end of June

GPs could play a greater role in prescribing COVID-19 treatments to patients at risk...

Physiotherapist works with patient

Is the government right to claim its 26,000 additional roles target has been met?

Prime minister Rishi Sunak claimed last month that the government had met its manifesto...

Statement of fitness for work

GP training: Tips for completing FIT notes

GP trainer Dr Pipin Singh provides advice for trainees on how to complete fit notes,...