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28-11-2012 | General practice | Article

More primary care HIV testing urged


HPA – HIV in the UK 2012

medwireNews: GPs should screen and test more for HIV, the HPA, government and medical charities have said during National HIV Testing Week.

The recommendations come after an HPA report, HIV in the United Kingdom, showed that 96,000 people were living with HIV in the UK at the end of 2011, with only a quarter aware of their status.

Nearly half of new diagnoses were acquired heterosexually, with half of these likely acquired in the UK, compared with a quarter in 2002. Also, new diagnoses among men having sex with men reached an all-time high, with one in 20 having HIV .

Earlier this week Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director - highlighting that nearly half of all infections are still made at a late stage - wrote to doctors urging them to be more alert to the symptoms of HIV infection, particularly in patients in high-risk groups.

Guidelines published by the British HIV Association in 2008 recommended that all patients in communities with a prevalence of 2 per 1000 people should be tested for HIV when registering with a new GP.

However, an audit conducted in high prevalence PCTs earlier this year found that only 31% had commissioned any HIV testing for newly registered patients.

Lisa Power, Head of Policy at The Terrence Higgins Trust told medwireNews: "GPs have an absolutely key role to play first of all in encouraging everybody in the highest-risk groups to test, and secondly, it would be really helpful if every GP was aware of the symptoms of primary HIV infection.

"This really is something that every doctor, whether they're a GP or in pretty well any form of secondary specialisation, should have some idea about: what HIV might look like and who ought to be recommended to test."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Kirsty Oswald