Call for routine HIV testing in primary care

Routine opt-out HIV testing should be introduced to all primary care health settings, according to UK research.

A third of people in the UK with HIV do not know  they have the virus, yet current UK guidelines recommend that

opt-out HIV testing be made available only for pregnant women and people attending GUM clinics.

Around 20,000 UK residents between the ages of 15 and 59 were living with undiagnosed HIV infection in 2005.

The researchers propose that routine opt-out testing would  reduce infection rates, lessen the stigma surrounding testing and reduce the number of people being diagnosed in the later stages of HIV.

Surveys of gay men attending GUM clinics in 2005 showed that the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV was 3.2 per cent.

The researchers call for surveys  in areas of known increased HIV prevalence, and in facilities known to serve people at increased risk of infection.

This would  provide the necessary information to inform a discussion of expanding opt-out HIV testing.

BMJ 2007;34:1,352-6

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