PRUH launches opt-out HIV testing in Emergency Department

The new initiative aims to reduce late diagnoses and improve patient outcomes

PRUH

Today (Thursday 21 April), the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) launched opt-out HIV testing in its Emergency Department to help reduce the incidence of late HIV diagnosis, encourage those who test positive to receive treatment, and reduce onward transmission of the virus.

Patients attending the Emergency Department who require a blood test as part of their diagnostic care will automatically be tested for HIV unless they specify otherwise.

Those who test positive will be referred to the dedicated HIV team for support and treatment.

Dr Claire Gray, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the PRUH, said, “The introduction of opt-out HIV testing in the PRUH’s Emergency Department is a positive step forward in reducing HIV transmission.

“With the antiretroviral medicines now available, which work by stopping the virus replicating in the body, HIV is a treatable condition and not the death sentence it once was.

“One of the most common reasons people develop complications is because they don’t know they have the virus, which this initiative aims to address. Additionally, medical evidence shows that people on effective HIV treatment can’t pass on the virus to others.”

King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, which is part of the same hospital Trust as the PRUH, launched a similar HIV testing initiative in 2016, following funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In the six years since the launch at King’s, more than 120 patients who did not know they had the virus have been identified as being HIV positive. These patients have been offered support and treatment from the hospital’s HIV service.