New guidance released by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends increased testing of HIV in key risk groups. The guidance aims to increase the uptake of HIV testing to reduce undiagnosed infection and prevent transmission among African communities and gay men.
Figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) also released today show that new diagnoses among people infected with HIV in the UK have almost doubled in the past decade (from 1,950 in 2001 to 3,780 in 2010). Gay or bisexual men remain the group most at risk of becoming infected with HIV and new diagnoses in this group alone have increased by 70 per cent in the past 10 years (rising from 1,810 in 2001 to 3,080 in 2010).
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust), comments:
‘NAT welcomes the new NICE guidance on increasing testing among African communities and gay men. Not only is the number of people being diagnosed with HIV still too high, late diagnosis is an extremely important problem as it means a person is likely to have had HIV for a number of years – with a high risk of transmission to sexual partners – and it can also reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
‘It is crucial that HIV testing becomes ‘normalised’ in our society, not just among gay men and African communities, but also amongst health professionals. Many people with HIV attend NHS services for years without being offered an HIV test and this neglect needs to be addressed and stopped.
‘The importance of HIV testing should now be reflected in Government plans as they reorganise the NHS and public health. In particular, it is essential that HIV late diagnosis remain a key outcome indicator to assess progress in public health at the local level. It is also vital that the extensive reorganisation of the NHS does not undermine recent momentum in HIV testing.
‘Public Health England must ensure that the vision for HIV testing amongst gay men and African communities set out in the NICE Guidance is consistently implemented across the whole of the NHS and public health system.’