Chichester MP praises government’s landmark expansions of national HIV testing system

A new research project backed by £20 million of funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will boost efforts to detect undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B and C in 46 more emergency departments in England.
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This means that anyone aged 16 years and over attending an attending A&E and having a routine blood test will be automatically tested for HIV, unless they choose otherwise.

Speaking on Friday, Gillian Keegan, the MP for Chichester, praised the move saying: “The further expansion of testing in A&E departments in England is an important and hugely positive step in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The evidence shows that mass testing helps to catch undiagnosed cases early, particularly in minority communities, saving the NHS millions in the process.”

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Mrs Keegan has previously spoken passionately about the need for greater awareness and prevention of HIV, and the tragic loss of her husband’s two brothers, Paul and Christopher, who died from AIDS in the 1990s.

Gillian Keegan MP attended an event to mark World AIDS Day in Parliament this week. Gillian Keegan MP attended an event to mark World AIDS Day in Parliament this week.
Gillian Keegan MP attended an event to mark World AIDS Day in Parliament this week.

“Recent innovations in testing and treatment have changed outcomes for millions worldwide. This World AIDS Day I will be wearing my red ribbon both in honour of Michael’s brothers and with the confidence that we will beat this disease with the help of our brilliant NHS.”

The announcement, which came ahead of World AIDS Day, marks a further commitment from the Government to eradicate the disease in the UK.

As a result of the NHS’s HIV Action Plan there are now fewer than 4,500 people living with undiagnosed HIV – the lowest level since records began. It is possible to live a long and healthy life with HIV, and most people with HIV diagnoses are receiving world class treatment through the NHS, making it undetectable.

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Richard Angell, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Today’s announcement is the turbo boost we need if we are to end new HIV cases by 2030.

“It’s hugely welcome that an additional four million HIV tests will be carried out in A&Es over the next year thanks to a temporary but wholesale expansion of opt-out HIV testing. This landmark investment to triple HIV testing in England – from 2.5 million tests a year to 6.5 million – is absolutely crucial to find the 4,400 people still undiagnosed.”